The Best Playdough Recipe Ever!

Playdough makes a great activity for building social skills, creativity, and fine motor skills. Instead of wasting my class budget on premade dough, I send this recipe home with parents! Then we have fresh and smooth playdough all year long!

Playdough makes a great activity for building social skills, creativity, and fine motor skills. Instead of wasting my class budget on premade dough, I send this recipe home with parents!

 

Why Not Use Premade Playdough?

My students get so excited by brand new playdough! But that excitement can lead to arguments and disappointment about what color they were given when there are a bunch of new cans of store-bought dough.

When we have used premade dough, the cans are instantly mixed together and the colors are blended into a gross brown. Then the enthusiasm for this center dies off because nobody wants the brown playdough.

Plus, it gets expensive to keep playdough stocked in a preschool classroom! I have tried putting it on our class wish list, but it is far more cost efficient to make your own!

Over the years, I have tried quite a few different playdough recipes. This one has always come out with the best consistency and lasted the longest!

Playdough makes a great activity for building social skills, creativity, and fine motor skills. Instead of wasting my class budget on premade dough, I send this recipe home with parents!

Match Your Colors and Scents to Your Theme

Some of my classroom parents dye the playdough at home, but I love it when they send it undyed too! Then we can add colors and scents so the dough matches our theme!

Food coloring is the standard way to dye your dough. There are the standard primary colors, but also a variety of bright and pastel colors to choose from.

You can also use Kool-Aid to make even more shades of the rainbow! Bonus, they make the playdough smell good too! Be sure you mix the Kool-Aid in with the dry ingredients though, or it won’t be a very consistent color.

For other scents, I like to use essential oils or spices. Cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg are great for apple spice and pumpkin spice scents. Check your pantry and experiment!

I only use Plant Therapy’s KidSafe oil line in my classroom playdough. Calming the Child has a great citrus smell and Nighty Night is a relaxing scent to work with!

My students love mixing the colors, spices, and scents into the playdough too! I just put it in a large Ziploc bag so the dye doesn’t stain their hands.

 

Beyond the Rolling Pins and Cookie Cutters

It is fun to mash down the playdough and cut our stars and hearts, but there are so many other things to do with this sensory activity!

For each unit, I like to make a few laminated play mats. Sometimes I find free premade ones on Teachers Pay Teachers, and other times I create them myself.

There is more to these laminated mats than creating letters and numbers! I leave some mats in the center all the time to practice the form of letters, making the letters of their name, and filling ten frames. But I also incorporate other more exciting activities too!

Encourage kids to make balls of dough to put in an apple tree, pumpkin patch, or snowflakes. Rolling balls of dough and poking them down as they count is great sensory, fine motor, and cognitive work!

There are also some great open-ended ideas for playdough mats. A blank face, empty plate, or mostly blank scene can allow their imaginations to run wild.

We keep the standard playdough toys in our bin – rolling pins, cookie cutters, playdough scissors, plastic knives, etc. But I also swap out other accessories that invite imaginative play and problem-solving.

One of my favorites is a variety of sizes of popsicle sticks. The kids build flat and 3D designs by using the playdough as their mortar while constructing.

Pretty much any nonporous toy makes another fun addition to this center. Beads, counting figurines, mini erasers, and more. Just take a look around your classroom (or the Target One Spot) and you’ll find plenty of items to spice up this center!

Playdough makes a great activity for building social skills, creativity, and fine motor skills. Instead of wasting my class budget on premade dough, I send this recipe home with parents!

Play IS Our Work in Preschool

Don’t take anything for granted in an early childhood classroom! All of our play is interconnected with motor, social, and cognitive skill development.

Playdough helps strengthen and coordinate fine motor skills as the child rolls, pinches, tears, and uses playdough tools. This will transfer over to improved strength and coordination in writing and cutting skills.

It also builds social communication skills as they work on taking turns, sharing materials, and chatting with their friends. They can hold some interesting conversations when working on their own projects, or work collaboratively with a friend to build their masterpiece.

As the children count, discuss attributes, and learn new vocabulary in our playdough center, they are working those cognitive skills. I keep our unit vocabulary posted in our art center, and often find the kids using playdough to make those items!

Finally, playdough is an amazing self-regulation tool. It is a soothing sensory experience that calms the brain when things go a bit haywire.

Playdough makes a great activity for building social skills, creativity, and fine motor skills. Instead of wasting my class budget on premade dough, I send this recipe home with parents!

Storing Extra Playdough

I send this recipe home with parents two or three times during the school year. I usually have a third to half of my class come back to school with a gallon bag of playdough!

It’s so fun to hear that the kids got to help mix the dough or that they helped pick the colors. Not only are they excited to play with it, but they are so proud that it came from their own home.

You might think that receiving 5-6 batches at once would mean that they dry out by the time you get around to using them. But you’d be wrong! As long as the Ziploc bag is sealed, it lasts for months!

I have a storage tub that holds all of that extra playdough until we get around to using it. Then we swap it out for new units or when the current round dries out.

While the playdough is out at our center, I store it in small plastic storage containers with twist-off lids. They keep the dough from drying out, portion’s it out into individual chunks for the kids, and the twist off lids encourage the children to learn how to open containers.

Playdough makes a great activity for building social skills, creativity, and fine motor skills. Instead of wasting my class budget on premade dough, I send this recipe home with parents!

So What’s The Recipe?

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour, plus a little extra for kneading
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 Tablespoon alum (found in the spices aisle at the grocery store)
  • 1 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • food coloring, spices, and essentials oils for colors and scents

Directions:

Mix flour and salt in a large bowl.

In a glass measuring cup – mix alum, water, oil, and food coloring.

Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture, stir until slightly cool.

Knead well, adding flour until it stops sticking to your hands.

Store in an airtight container when not in use.

If it is sticky when you take it out to use it, knead in more flour until it reaches the correct consistency.

Playdough makes a great activity for building social skills, creativity, and fine motor skills. Instead of wasting my class budget on premade dough, I send this recipe home with parents!

Tell Me About Your Playdough Center

What are your kids’ favorite activities with playdough? Do you have any creative accessories that you use? Comment below to share your ideas!

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