Rainy Day Fun: Homemade Play Dough

homemade play dough project

The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house
All that cold, cold, wet day.
I sat there with Sally, we sat there we two.
And I said, “How I wish we had something to do!”
– Dr. Seuss, “The Cat in the Hat”

Faced with a long, rainy weekend ahead, I was thrilled when a friend passed along a recipe for homemade play dough. Crafts are the perfect antidote for shut-in fever. This particular recipe called for Kool-Aid as a colorant. Brilliant!

When I shared my enthusiasm for our weekend plans, my friend Judy, a longtime teacher of toddlers, laughed. “Oh, we love making play dough, but I’m not so sure about that recipe.”

“The thing is,” Judy explained in response to my puzzled expression, “It tastes good.” Did I mention that Judy works with toddlers? While homemade play dough is safe to consume, it is discouraged, especially after use. Judy kindly shared her tried-and-true recipe using (sigh) plain old food coloring, and we went into the weekend with a new, toddler approved, but not-so-delicious play-dough plan.

We think you’ll love this easy recipe for making play dough. Colorful and pliant, it was ready to go in about 15 minutes and can be stored in the refrigerator for future rainy day crafting.

For the record, a little bit of our Kool-Aid-free play dough may have been eaten anyway. I couldn’t help myself. It looked delicious.


Step 1

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In a medium pot, stir together 1 cup flour, ½ cup salt, and 2 tablespoons cream of tartar.

Step 2

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Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and one cup of water and combine well, breaking up any clumps.

Step 3

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Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. The mixture will start out thin, but it will thicken as it cooks.

Step 4

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After 3-5 minutes, the dough will come together and pull away from the sides of the pot. Once it begins to form a ball, transfer into a glass bowl or non-stick surface.

Step 5

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Once cool enough to handle, divide the dough into as many pieces as you’d like colors and knead each piece until pliant.

Step 6

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With your thumb, press a deep indentation into the dough and add a bit of food coloring.

Step 7

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Knead the dough until the color is even throughout. Add more coloring if desired.

Step 8

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This homemade play dough may be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for weeks or even months.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Food coloring


  • Medium-sized pot
About Mick Telkamp 


A former Midwesterner living in North Carolina, I write about my adventures in backyard chicken-keeping and suburban homesteading over at HGTVGardens, and my exploits in the culture of Southern cooking ...

More About Mick Telkamp

2 Responses

  1. Monica says:

    Hi, thanks for the great diy. The step by step pictures are a great help. Question: Does the food coloring transfer during play to the kiddos hands?

  2. Judy A. says:

    Thanks for giving me the nod :)

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