Making play doh

Make your own play dough!

2 cups of plain flour – (NOT self raising flour)
1 cup of salt
2 cups of cold water
2 tablespoons of cooking oil
2 heaped teaspoons of cream of tartar – (Buy a tub it works better than the sachets)
Few drops of food colouring – (optional)


  • Put the flour, salt, water, cooking oil and cream of tartar into a large saucepan.
  • Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is blended together.
  • Add a few drops of food colouring.
  • Cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes. Keep the mixture on the move by stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. As the mixture heats up it will start to thicken from the bottom and sides of the saucepan. Keep stirring the mixture and blending it together until it forms a lump.This can be quite hard work.
  • Using the wooden spoon, tip the hot lump of play dough onto a floured surface and scrape around the sides of the saucepan and bottom of the saucepan and add this to the lump. At this stage the play dough may look a bit shiny, lumpy and nothing like play dough at all! Don’t panic.
  • Taking care that the play dough is not too hot, knead the play dough adding a small amount of flour. The play dough will start to look like the real thing after a bit of kneading. Leave the play dough to cool. To store, wrap in cling film or place in a polythene bag or an airtight container.


The play dough will keep for up to one month if stored in a fridge or cool place. If it should get trodden into a carpet – leave until dry and then scrape away with a blunt knife.

When you have finished cooking the play dough, the saucepan may look like it will never come clean! Don’t panic, fill it with water and leave it to soak and it will come clean and look better than when you started.

Play dough is really good for developing fine motor skills. Pressing, squeezing, moulding and rolling using thumbs, fingers and palms helps to develop the muscles in the fingers and hands. Play dough is also a good way for children to experience using simple tools and to learn how to use these tools safely and effectively.Playing with play dough offers lots of opportunities to develop language skills, number skills, creativity and imaginative play.


Play ideas

  • Use with a small rolling pin and shaped cutters – small wooden rolling pins, suitable for little hands, can be purchased in Wilkinson’s.
  • Use paper or silicon fairy cake cases to make fairy cakes. Use buttons or beads for currants, cherries etc. Sing the song ‘Five currant buns in the Baker’s Shop.
  • Make playdough furniture for small world people. Mould the play dough into shapes such as little chairs, beds, tables etc. Press suitable everyday objects into the play dough to make impressions and patterns
  • Use natural resources – shells, leaves, twigs to make play dough models.
  • Use toy cars to make tracks in play dough.
  • Set up a little building site using small world toys and use play dough to make bricks for the dumper trucks or boulders for the diggers to move around.
  • Play dough is very good for teaching scissor skills – flatten pieces of play dough into small circles or roll into long sausage or worm type lengths and then cut with scissors that are suitable for children to use.
  • Make food for a doll’s or teddy’s tea party using paper plates or a doll’s tea set.
  • Make a favourite dinner on a paper plate for a special person.
  • Teach and encourage knife and fork skills using children’s cutlery or chunky plastic picnic/barbecue cutlery such as sold in B&M or Wilkinsons.