Play Dough for the Very Young

by Carol Jordan

Children all over the world enjoy playing with messy, gooey mixtures like mud every day. Learning about substances -- how they feel, smell, taste, look and behave is an integral part of a toddler's job description.

Finding ways to develop those same senses in safe ways that don't make such a mess or cost a lot are essential to many homes. Below you will find recipes for some wonderful, gooey, icky mixtures that your children will love and want to play with over and over again.

Kool-Aid Play-doh
• 1 ½ to 3 cups flour
• 2 cups boiling water
• 3 T corn oil
• ½ cup salt
• 1 T alum
• 1 pkg unsweetened koolaid

Mix ingredients and knead with flour (may take up to 1 cup flour for this). Use more flour if the dough draws in more moisture in high humidity. This keeps well in tightly sealed containers (I use Ziploc baggies). It also has a nice fragrance as well as color thanks to the Kool-Aid.

Peanut Butter Play-doh
There are two variations of this recipe that both work well. Both are edible and loved by children:

1 cup each of peanut butter, honey, powdered milk, and rolled oats -- mix together and use as any other Play-doh.


1 cup each of peanut butter, white corn syrup and powdered sugar; 3 cups powdered milk -- mix ingredients adding powdered milk after first three are blended well; knead until smooth.

**You can also add raisins, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, dried fruit, pretzels or candies to add texture and make their creations more fun.

Nature's Play-doh
• 1 cup flour
• ½ cup salt
• 1 cup water
• 2 T oil
• 2 T cream of tarter
• beet, spinach, and carrot juice

Mix flour, salt and oil; slowly add the water. Cook over medium heat stirring until dough becomes stiff. Turn out onto wax paper and let cool. Knead the dough with your hands until of proper consistency (thick and moldable). You can use the dough as is, or divide into balls and add a few drops of vegetable juices to make green, pink, and orange.

Store the play dough in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I have found that discarded yogurt containers with replaceable lids are great for play dough storage.

Carol Jordan is the mom of two and accredited in Texas as a preschool director. She began teaching preschool in 1994 and has worked with all age groups, from infants through school-aged children. Her main focus and experience is with children between the ages of two and five years old.

Copyright © Carol Jordan. Permission to republish granted to