Homemade spiced play dough

One of the things I love about play dough is that when our kids get into it, they can go on for a long time (even Piglet, 3yo) and that frees me up to prepare a good meal.

I am lousy in the kitchen, so I need all the play dough help I can get.

That makes sense, right?

After a series of super stinking meals this week, I decided it was time to make a new batch of play dough. Since we coloured our last batch in bright, sprightly colours, I thought we would try something more natural this time.

We used our favourite no-cook recipe from The Imagination Tree:

  • 2 cups plain (all purpose) flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • Up to 1.5 cups boiling water
  • Food colouring (optional)

When Roo was finally settled at her afternoon nap, I crept out stealthily and headed straight for the goods.

First I handed Lamb (6yo) the measuring cup and spoons. He measured the flour and poured it into a large mixing bowl, followed by the oil, salt and cream of tartar. (Tip: Place the mixing bowl in the sink and you won’t have to worry about spills and flour going all over the place.)

Meanwhile, I put the water to boil and added in a few drops of yellow food colouring.

Lamb and Piglet watched as I added the boiling coloured water to the flour (in increments). They took turns to mix it with a metal spoon, waited for me to add more coloured water, then mixed some more. They were so excited as they watched how combining different ingredients gradually produced a new substance.

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We ended up with a lovely huge mass of hot dough. They couldn’t wait to get their hands into it but had to wait until it cooled down – a good lesson in patience.

They also had to learn that there is more than one way to skin a cat, because when I was able to handle the lump with my hands (it cooled in just a few minutes) they started bickering about who would get to knead the dough.

Kids, you know?? I divided the lot quickly and that resolved the issue permanently.

Although it would have been fun if we had had a play dough fight there and then, don’t you think?

Anyway. The kneading part is the most important as it makes the dough smooth and even instead of lump and grainy. This is how it looked before we kneaded it.

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Puppy (8yo) joined in at this juncture and all four of us got down to kneading. It was a fantastic time of banging, rolling, squeezing, pinching, pressing, poking, flattening, slapping and rolling again some more. A wonderful exercise of fine motor skills and developing muscle strength.

They laughed so hard I had to remind them Roo was asleep and by golly we didn’t want her to wake up otherwise I wouldn’t be able to prepare dinner and they would have to eat cardboard.

We then had a fun game where each passed his/her dough ball to the person on the left so that everyone could have a turn at kneading each other’s dough ball. Quality control!

We also found that it was much more effective to divide big dough balls into littler balls and knead those like mad in order to really even out the grainy lumps, before combining them again.

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(Why is it I take such inconsistent photos? The colour is all over the place! I am sadly lacking in photography skills as you can see.)

Finally we added the following ingredients to spice up our play dough.

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Everyone had a great time shaking out cinnamon and nutmeg.

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Such a lovely scent!

And sprinkling on lots and lots of glitter.

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Ooohhh! Look at my glittery fingers!!

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The sensorial experience of making play dough is really something.

I then got out rollers, baking tins and cookie cutters …

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… which resulted in immediate heightened chaos.

By this time I had forgotten I had planned to cook properly. Oops.

This is what a three year old does.

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And what an eight year old does.

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I kinda miss the adventurous and wild exploration of play dough by toddlers! I just know that when Roo joins us (soon), she will get into it all wonderfully wacky.

It wasn’t too much of a mess to clean up. Puppy wiped the kitchen table and I wiped the floor underneath and it was a job done in no time.

You can guess we ended up with another stinking meal that evening.

But no matter. Because the next day, Piglet asked for play dough again while the older two were in school and I simply supplied the following additional ingredients – coriander seeds, cloves, cardamon seeds, cinnamon sticks and dhal.

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Our spiced play dough was still soft and nice and glittery after being stored in an air-tight container at room temperature. (I find that keeping homemade play dough in the refridgerator makes it last for about 3 months but it gets moist and sticky. Not very nice. Will let you know how long this new dough lasts unrefridgerated.)

Piglet got down to his work.

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And I got down to mine.

He paused awhile to help me season some chicken – because a loving, attached three year old never wants to be away for too long from his mama, and also because there’s nothing like a taste of the salt grains before they go in and a good knead with hands and fingers afterward!

Seasoning meat

Then he returned to baking “cup cakes” for our morning snack (remembering to wash the seasoning off his hands first).

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One, two, three for me. One, two, three for you, Mama.

Mmmmmm. I love ya, baby.

This time, when the older kids got back from school I had a Good Lunch waiting. Thanks to Piglet and homemade spiced play dough.


Puppy (8.4yo), Lamb (6.1yo), Piglet (3.7yo), Roo (8mo).


Do you enjoy making play dough with your kids too?

Related post: Sensory play at our place (46 ideas)


  • Christine@theAums
    August 27, 2014 10:52 pm

    I love homemade play dough! I even once had an entrepreneurial idea to make a play dough kit called “Play-With-Me Dough” LOL. I’ve never added spices…I think I will try that next time.

  • Natalie
    August 28, 2014 6:44 pm

    I have never made play dough but obviously I need to do this or have you send me some 🙂
    Natalie recently posted…Back to School Time!My Profile

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