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Play dough: make your own from store cupboard ingredients

store cupboard playdough
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Play dough: make your own from store cupboard ingredients

store cupboard playdough
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Toddlers playing with playdough play dough

My small folk love play dough. It’s one of those activities that will literally entertain my 3 and 4 year old for a good hour or so. I’ve always made my own, initially because of cost, when my teenagers were small. I’ve been doing it ever since. I can knock up a batch of this in under 10 minutes for pennies. That makes a big difference when money is tight.

I find it doesn’t dry out as quickly as the commercial dough. The recipe is also very forgiving of not having quite the right ingredients! That’s quite handy at the moment when nipping to the shop for supplies isn’t practical.

I use a cooked method for making play dough, but there are lots of other methods on the internet. I’m not saying this one is the best, but it is the best one I’ve tried. It’s pretty foolproof. A batch lasts for a month or so in a plastic bag, and even longer if kept in the fridge. You will get lots of play sessions from a single batch.

Making play dough

Play dough ingredients

1 cup of plain flour – any kind of plain flour is fine, I’ve never used self raising but I imagine that would probably be ok too
¾ cup of water – tap water, no fancy water required
¼ cup of salt; fine table salt works best as it’s easier. Salt in a grinder will work, but it is much more time consuming to have to grind it!
1 tablespoon of oil – I tend to use coconut oil as I love the smell and always have it in. (I could probably write a blog on things I do with coconut oil, but that’s for another time.) Any oil will work just fine though, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, even margarine will do the job.

Colour (optional) – any kind of food colouring, liquid or gel will work fine.
Scent (optional) – a few drops of essential oil or extracts such as vanilla or mint that are used in baking.


​A saucepan: any pan will be fine. You don’t need to designate a pan for play dough, just wash afterwards as you would for any cooking.
A bowl: any kind of bowl, plastic, ceramic, glass or anything else that you can mix the dry ingredients together in.
A cup measure: an actual cup measure or a mug. This recipe is very forgiving so approximation is absolutely fine as long as you keep the rough proportions. (If you use a very large mug you may want to double the oil to maintain the ratio)
A tablespoon: for measuring the oil, measuring with a teaspoon twice would work to
A mixing spoon: I use a wooden one, but anything to stir your play dough with, plastic spoons, spatula, tablespoons work just as well.

How to make playdough

​1. Measure your water and chosen oil into a saucepan over a medium heat until it’s hot but not boiling. This step will also melt the oil if you’re using one that’s solid at room temperature.

2. If you’re using colours or scents add them to the wet ingredients now and give it a stir.

3. While the wet ingredients are heating up measure the salt and flour into your bowl and mix well.

4. Once your wet ingredients are hot, remove from the heat and add your dry ingredients. Mix well until the play dough comes together into a ball. At this point it will be slightly sticky but not sticking to the pan.

5. Carefully take the ball of play dough out of the pan and knead for a couple of minutes until smooth.

6. Cool and play! We tend to get stuck in once it’s cooled down a bit, but still warm.

store cupboard play dough

​There are a lot of things you can do with your dough now. Use your hands, cookie cutters, butter knives, a garlic press… anything you can think of to create and play!   I would love to see what you’ve been doing with your play dough. Please et us know if you have any top tips for making playdough or favourite activities to do with it.

This series contain several blogs all looking at ways to keep the kids entertained with things you have to hand.
We have Things to do with wooden blocks, games to play with lego bricks, activities with a pen and paper, and alternative tech activities.

By Jeni Atkinson – CalmFamily Director and owner of Little Possums preloved

Jeni Atkinson

Jeni is a wonderful, compassionate and inspiring woman. She says “Just because our parenting is gentle doesn’t mean it doesn’t make a difference. The way we raise our children will impact how they feel about themselves & the choices they make as they grow up. I want to see things change in their lifetime, I want to fight back against the childist views of our patriarchal society.

I want to see a world where children are allowed their own autonomy; a world that lets them learn for themselves & make their own mistakes. I want a society where diversity in all its forms is celebrated; where neurodiversity, mental health, sex & sexuality, gender, politics & all these subjects that are shied away from, are talked about openly. I want a society where parents are inspired & supported to make the choices that work for them & their families. Oh, & to save the planet at the same time!”  

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Childhood play & learning, Family activities, Sustainable living, Toddler play
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