Our best play dough recipe plus 16 fun makes

There’s something weirdly therapeutic about kneeding this squashy substance into shapes that makes it irresistible to join the little ones and release your inner creativity.

In fact, play dough has more-or-less become the resident therapist in the toy kingdom, since playing with this de-stressing dough has proven so relaxing for both kids and grown ups alike.

Never before have we heard such a guilt-free excuse to skip yoga and play with the kids instead.

So don the apron and cook up a treat for all the family with this quick and easy play dough recipe. Don’t be afraid to get creative with the colouring; you could even make a couple of different coloured batches for optimum playtime productivity!

We recommend using a gel food colouring, since it gives you a richer colour than ordinary food colourings. When you’re done, just pop it into a sealable bag or airtight container and play. Just make sure you remember to let the kids join in…

Basic Play Dough Recipe

You will need

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of water
  • Food colouring
  • Large saucepan
  • Spoon
  • How to make

    Step one
    Add the flour, salt, cream oftartar and vegetable oil to the saucepan.

    Step two
    Add some food colouring to a cup of water, then pour into the saucepan.

    Step three
    Stir over a medium heat, until the mixture becomes a sticky, combined dough. Allow it to cool.

    Step four
    Remove the dough from the saucepan and knead into a smooth ball of play dough.

    Now that you’ve made, rolled, squished or cut it, you may be wondering what else there is do with your play dough.

    Fear not, we’re bringing the excitement back to dough! These fun activities and recipe tweaks should keep your little ones occupied.

    1. Make play dough wands

    Every fairy princess needs a wand and what better to make it from than play dough? That way you can reshape it and remake it any way you like, to go with every outfit, of course.
    Make it: Play dough wands

    2. Turn play dough into a galaxy!

    Little explorers will love this simple way to learn about the stars. Great if your kids have friends round, to keep them out of trouble for a little while.
    Make it: Play dough planets

    3. Transform toys with play dough

    We love giving old toys a new lease of life and play dough is a simple solution to making pre-loved play things appealing again. Your little one will love seeing how wacky an outfit they can give that old Lego man.
    Make it: Play dough toys

    4. Squash it into some stress balls (which you can use later!)

    Make it: Play dough stress balls

    5. Use play dough to teach fine motor skills

    Somehow our kids’ crafting never seems to look like those ones you see on Pinterest. There’s definitely a lot more mess involved. We’ve found the best way to combat the strain of this is to sneakily have them make you a stress ball during one of their creative sessions.
    Make it: Play dough bridges

    6. Make a wild jungle for toy animals to roam in

    Play dough makes a great mat for all kind of scenarios. This jungle one is perfect for toy animals but you could make one that features street and gardens to use toy cars on – their imagination is the limit.
    Make it: Play dough jungle

    6. Make ever-lasting fossils from their favourite toys

    Baking play dough makes sure you can appreciate your child’s creative wonder for years to come. These cute little critters are much more fun than real fossils with their brightly coloured indentations.
    Make it: Play dough fossils

    7. Give tutti fruitti play dough a go

    Kids love this colourful play dough and the addition of fruity smells makes it even more fun. It’s also a great way to talk about shape, smells and textures with little ones, to refine their motor skills from a young age.
    Make it: Fruit play dough

    8. Create a play dough volcano

    A variety of simple household ingredients will make this giant volcano erupt! The volcano is also a great way to use up an old batch of play dough – just dump it in the bin after your little experiment is over.
    Make it: A play dough volcano by The Artful Parent

    9. Bake it!

    There will be times when your little ones are so proud of their play dough creations that they won’t want to squish them back into the Tupperware container at the end of play-time. Baking their masterpiece will ensure its longevity.

    Simply pop it in the oven for about 10 minutes at 200 degrees – you may need longer for larger items. It’s great for making gifts or ornaments – we particularly love this cute handprint memento.
    Make it: Play dough handprints by Swearing Moms

    10. Make your own jewellery

    When you’ve got the hang of baking play dough you can start creating your own jewellery.

    Make beads out of balls of dough or cut out shapes, adding a hole to each one. Bake them in the oven and once cooled, thread them onto wool to make totally one-of-a-kind necklaces.
    Make it: Play dough jewellery by One Perfect Day

    11. Turn it into snow dough

    Take our DIY recipe and add some glitter for the perfect snowy dough.

    Try mixing the glitter with various food colourings – blue is perfect for Frozen-obsessed little ones! You can also add scents such as Peppermint to add to that frosty feeling.
    Make it: Play dough snow by Paging Fun Mums

    12. Make it Glow in the dark

    Adding some glow-in-the-dark paint (try the Early Learning Centre) instantly takes dough from dull to wow! ‘Charge’ up your dough by sitting it in sunlight and then let the kids go mad with it in the dark.
    Make it: Glow in the dark play dough by Sunhats and Wellie Boots

    13. Get some accessories

    Poke-ins are a really fun way to play with play dough and are particularly great for little ones who can’t quite mould the dough yet. Play dough monsters are a particular favourite of ours!
    Make it: Play dough accessories by Pink and Green Mama

    14. Create herb and spice play dough

    Ditch the food colouring and get your kids to raid the kitchen cupboard instead. You can use various herbs and spices to add colour and fragrance to the dough. It will make delicious-smelling natural dough, while teaching your little ones all about flavours.
    Make it: Herbs and spieces play dough by Craftulate

    15. Make your very own train table

    Train tables aren’t cheap but you can make your own one at a fraction of the price with some train tracks, an old box or table and lots of play dough!

    Moulding the play dough into a surrounding for the tracks will keep them busy – in fact, they’ll probably have as much fun making it as playing with the trains afterwards.
    Make it: A train table by Filth Wizardry

    16. Make chocolate-scented play dough reindeer

    The challenge here will be making sure the kids to have a little nibble of this delicious-smelling play dough. With endless combinations and furry friends to be made this should keep your Christmas elves out of trouble for at least a few minutes!
    Make it: Chocolate reindeer by My Little Three and Me

    Basic play dough recipe by: Suzie Attaway