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How to Make "Play Do" - Homemade Playdough Recipes

Cara is a mother of two young children and has taught second through fifth grade.

Making a dinosaur out of our Jello play-dough!

Making a dinosaur out of our Jello play-dough!

Learning With Playdough

Playdough is a great tool to use for instructional purposes. Not only does it provide a natural way for children to explore, but it also delves into using each of the five senses, provides an opportunity for conversation with your children, and practice with shapes, numbers, and letters.

By using cookie cutters that are different shapes, letters, or numbers, your child will be able to practice identifying these objects, build words, and explore her creativity all at the same time. If you decide to make your own playdough, it also provides an opportunity to learn vocabulary, math, and cooperation skills.

You will also use words like knead, ingredients, combine, mixture, and more. Children hear these words as you use them in real-world situations and will be far more likely to use and apply them on their own. This will help to build reading success. Studies have shown that the biggest indicator to reading success is the vocabulary base that a child has as they enter and continue through school.

Math concepts are shown as you measure and pour the various ingredients, children begin to have an introduction to the basic ideas of measuring, fractions, and even estimation skills. Imagine that all of this learning is hidden by fun!

The Five Senses and Playdough

Add in other forms of texture, smells, and visual effects to stimulate all five senses.



edible playdough; mix in m&ms, peanuts, oats


beads, string, people or animal figures


glitter, color


sound of cookie cutters, plastic scissors, tolling pins


Jello, various extracts to intensify the scents

Thinking about playing with playdough brings back such fond memories. Children of all ages delight in the opportunity to get creative with cutting, sculpting, and shaping various things out of playdough. We all know that you can easily go to the store to buy brand-name playdough. However, if you are looking to make large quantities of playdough and don't want to spend a fortune or are looking to create an opportunity to involve all of your child’s five senses, here are a few recipes to help you out.

Play-dough Tools and Supplies

Basic Playdough Recipe


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil


Mix the flour, salt, and water in a bowl. Add a small amount of oil (this keeps the dough from hardening.) Knead the play dough a little then let the kids each take a turn.

You can use some of the variations in the table above to help you make the basic playdough more interesting. Why not add some brightly colored beads or some glitter? Or how about a drop or two of lemon or peppermint extract?

Edible Peanut Butter Playdough


  • One 18 oz. jar of creamy peanut butter
  • 6 tablespoons of honey
  • ¾ cup non-fat dry milk
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Mix ingredients together. Knead it with fingers while forming the dough into desired shapes.

(For those with peanut allergies, try using soy nut butter.)

Jell-O Play-dough


  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (3 ½ oz. package) of Jell-O


Mix all ingredients together and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the consistency of mashed potatoes. Let cool and knead with floured hands until dry. Store in airtight container after the mixture is cooled.

Note: If you decided to make play-dough sculptures using this recipe, you will be able to paint them after they have air dried.

Using and Storing Your Playdough

Playing with your new playdough is very exciting. Break out all of the wonderful tools that you have to make the learning experience even more fun. You don't have to have anything fancy. Just a rolling pin, a plastic knife, match box cars, and some plastic action figures or animals can elicit a world of imagination in your child!

When you are ready to clean up your new creation, find an airtight container to store it in. This can be a plastic container with a lid or even just a zip lock plastic bag. As long as air does not penetrate to container, your playdough will stay fresh.

Gift Ideas

If you are looking for an easy and inexpensive gift to give to some young people in your life, why not make some playdough? Imagine their surprise as they open up the package and find that it is not just regular play-dough but smells like cherries or is mixed with beads. What a wonderful surprise for them!

Place the playdough in a decorative container and attach some cookie cutters with a ribbon. Your thoughtful gift will be a hit!


Kenneth C Agudo from Tiwi, Philippines on May 19, 2013:

wonderful ;-)

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on January 06, 2013:

My darling daughter, after all our (my) chats about the HOTD you sneak up and get one! LOL This is so perfect. You really must have been biting your tongue during our latest conversations. Congratulations! I'm so glad that something positive has fallen your way these last few days! Keep moving forward...

Mike Robbers from London on January 06, 2013:

That smell of playdough is directly associated with childhood memories :) This is fantastic, an uncooked recipe is great because younger kids can still participate in the whole process!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on January 05, 2013:

Congratulations, awesome hub and video. Great work. Voted up.

Naomi's Banner from United States on January 05, 2013:

This is awesome! Enjoyed the way the children worked together to accomplish their task. So sweet! These recipes all seem very easy and it was obvious that the children enjoyed what they were doing. Thanks so much for this video. I can't wait to try this with my grandkids.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on January 05, 2013:

this is so much fun. Homemade play dough is the best. Congratulations on hub of the day.:) Sending angels your way :) ps

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on January 05, 2013:

Thought I'd come back by and tell you CONGRATS on HOTD! It's cuz it's awesome!

CZCZCZ from Oregon on January 05, 2013:

Excellent Play Do recipe, I will have to forward this to my brother as my little nephew goes through Play Doh by the bucket fulls.

Sarah Johnson from Charleston, South Carolina on January 05, 2013:

It's about time this award-winning article got Hub of the Day! Congratulations!

Marissa from United States on January 05, 2013:

Excellent hub and tutorial! My kids would love the edible dough recipe. I'll have to try that one soon.

Congrats on the Hub of the Day!

RTalloni on January 05, 2013:

Congrats on your Hub of the Day award for this delightful hub. Your children are just precious and watching them make their playdoughs was fun stuff. Your tips for the playdough are helpful, especially about using it as a gift. Neat hub, for sure!

Stephanie Henkel from USA on January 05, 2013:

Congratulations on your hub of the day! Your kids do such a wonderful job of demonstrating making the play dough-the video is great. Adding the jello to the play dough mixture is a terrific idea for giving it color as well as scent. It's nice to know the kids will be playing with something where you know for sure that the ingredients are non-toxic. Great hub, voted up and shared.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on August 21, 2012:

I'm so glad that this hub gave you a little trip down memory lane belleart. Thanks so much for your visit.

belleart from Ireland on August 20, 2012:

My grandmother used to make play dough for me and my sister..this brings back soo many memories! :)

She'd use food colourings and let us at some of her baking stencils! Best times down at my grandparents home!!!

cardelean (author) from Michigan on July 01, 2012:

Thanks Mama Kim8, I appreciate your kind comments! The peanut butter recipe is great for a playtime activity that leads into a snack. And I'm sure your playdough hub is great! :)

Aloe Kim on June 30, 2012:

Wow what an amazing hub! It puts my play dough hub to shame!! ^_^ I love the recipe using the peanut butter I'll have to try it very soon.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on April 10, 2012:

Actually Melissa they got it from preschool. But I'm pretty sure that the teachers got it from Madagascar! Thanks for stopping by to comment.

Melissa A Smith from New York on April 10, 2012:

I'm guessing your children got their 'stirring theme' from Madagascar.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on April 10, 2012:

Thank you so much Purple Perl for stopping back by to congratulate me again. It really means a lot to me. Have a fantastic day!

Esther Shamsunder from Bangalore,India on April 09, 2012:

cardelean, it gives me great pleasure to congratulate you once again,on your Grand prize win. Truly well deserved,the video is just too good!

cardelean (author) from Michigan on April 09, 2012:

Thanks K9! I really appreciate your encouraging words. Afterall, like many others who entered the contest, I (along with my kids) worked very hard to put this together. Have a great Monday!

Hub Hugs back!

India Arnold from Northern, California on April 08, 2012:

What a perfect choice as the KIA contest Grand Prize Winner! So many outstanding contributions, it must have been a difficult vote! But, when all is said and done, the cream ALWAYS rises to the top; and here you are Cara, right where you belong! Wonderful job! I am so proud of you and impressed at the same time. VERY well deserved. Just goes to show you what a great attitude, hard work, and real talent can bring-- others could stand to learn a thing a or two, my friend!

Super well deserved Congrats!!


cardelean (author) from Michigan on April 08, 2012:

Fantastic acaetnna! I hope that you get a chance to try them out. So glad that you stopped by to read and comment.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on April 08, 2012:

LOL Mary! They often do! My son is quite the comedian and often keeps us in stitches! Food coloring will work but the jello makes it fun because of the scent. Thanks so much for the congrats.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on April 08, 2012:

Thank you Gail!!! I was so pleasantly shocked! We do have a lot of fun together! :) I appreciate you stopping by again to congratulate me. :)

cardelean (author) from Michigan on April 08, 2012:

Thank you so much cat on a soapbox, I appreciate your time in stopping to congratulate me! The kids and I had a great time working on it together!

cardelean (author) from Michigan on April 08, 2012:

Thanks luckykarma! I appreciate your kind comments of encouragement and compliments on my kiddos! Happy Easter to you as well!

acaetnna from Guildford on April 08, 2012:

Awesome, I had a great recipe for play dough some years ago but I couldn't remember the recipe. I am so pleased that I found this hub of yours. Thank you.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on April 07, 2012:

Congrats!!!!! This Hub is great. Your kids just stole the show. They are precious. I could watch your kids all day and listen to them sing. My kids and I used to make play dough, but I think we used food coloring instead of Jello. Congrats again.