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The Best Playdough for Toddlers – Quick, Easy, and Safe for Curious Mouths
A few months ago I made up our first batch of homemade playdough. Having spent so much time at the fantastic StrongStart program, there was no need to try it at home until then. But being bored on a weekend and excited to try this recipe I found for no-cook playdough that can keep for up to 6 months, we decided to give it a shot and embark on our own journey of playdough exploration.
Here are the ingredients you will need for this fabulous playdough recipe. I purposely chose one that used cream of tartar instead of alum. I have certain reservations about alum being safe for little ones who will undoubtedly be putting the playdough in their mouths.
2 cups All-purpose flour
2 tbsp Olive oil (or another vegetable oil)
2 tbsp Cream of tartar
½ cup Salt
1 ½ cups Water (plus a pot or kettle to boil it)
*Optional* Food colouring
*Optional* Couple drops glycerine (for shine)
Since I actually followed the recipe properly (I know, you’re probably shocked. So am I.), I’m not going to repeat it here. Basically you mix up the dry ingredients, add the water, and knead like crazy until the dough becomes unbelievably dreamy-textured. If it still seems too sticky, you can sprinkle a bit more flour in small amounts as you continue to knead until it reaches the right consistency.
The dough worked out wonderfully! It was the perfect consistency, and is still quite soft after almost 3 months, even after being left out in the direct sun for a couple hours on two occasions. I appreciate this because a) I don’t have a ton of time to make a new batch of playdough every time and b) cream of tartar is expensive – the less we have to use, the better. When I made it at a friend’s house, however, I wasn’t careful measuring and added too much flour, so it was a bit crumbly and less pliable, and didn’t last as long.
Here are a few pointers that seem to make a difference in ending up with the perfect playdough.
Mixing the food colouring into the water before adding the water to the mix helps make the dough a uniform colour.
The more you knead the freshly mixed dough, the better the consistency will be, and the longer the playdough will stay that way.
To keep playdough fresh, I keep my playdough in a large ziplock bag, making sure to squeeze out as much air as possible before closing it up.
Enjoying playdough at home allowed us the time a space to be able to explore this medium for learning and expression on our own terms. Children can learn an incredible amount though playdough. It’s challenges and invitations for exploration are endless, offering opportunities for imaginary play, artistic expression, literacy (making and looking at letters and other symbols), physics and so much more. It’s also been great to have handy for those days when the little miss is just constantly clinging at me because she seems bored with the same old routine when we’re stuck at home.
Of course, if you’re strapped for time, or just want to try something really cool, Wee Can Too Art is a non-toxic and edible art supply store that carries just-add-water dry mixes for Organic Natural Veggie Dough. (Disclosure: Affiliate link. You can read my full disclosure policy here.)
Keep an eye out for a post coming soon on the ways my little one has been exploring with playdough, for more ideas on what and how you can learn about yourself and the world through this fabulously squishy medium.
Have you tried mixing up some homemade playdough? What recipe did you try, and how did it work out? What do your little ones like to do with the dough?