A Recipe for Playdough, or, Take Time to Play

It was a productive day here. The sun was shining, it was a rare warm-ish sort of day and it seems warm sunny days are the best in my life to get things moving.

I began by cleaning out my oven at 8am. This poor oven that takes abuse most days and is relied upon to feed a small army on a regular basis, doesn’t get the care it deserves.  The top gets nasty quickly and since that’s the visible part, it gets cleaned regularly. But the inside? Oy. Yeah, maybe twice a year I get to that. Self clean button? What’s that?

So that got done, in addition to breaking in my new 8 qt   Instapot (!) which I was able to purchase during a great black Friday sale. I stuck in a beef roast and called it lunch and dinner (90 minutes to tender shredded beef, y’all)! Having an intense craving for chocolate and being that it’s been a full two days since I baked something, I whipped up a batch of zucchini brownies (best use ever for that veggie). Although now that I say that I’m thinking zucchini fritters and zucchini lasagna…

Next I mopped the kitchen floor, did laundry (of course), mailed out three soap orders (thanks Kelly, Terry, and Melissa!), did sit down lessons on Spanish speaking Central American countries with the girls and supervised tortilla making to go along with those lessons (because, Mexico).

Those tortillas tasted really good with the beef.

It was feeling so good to get it all done, but somewhere in between oven elbow grease and picking up my 10th grader from school, I started feeling guilty.

I hadn’t spent enough time with my littlest ones today.

And quality time is so much more important than a clean oven, right?

Sometimes it occurs to me that this life of parenting teens and homeschooling elementary and junior high-ers, of running a business and writing a blog, of breathing new life into an old farm, and changing diapers and nursing babies, etc etc etc, just sometimes, someone gets overlooked.

I used to be such a FUN mom of preschoolers! Back when all I had was preschoolers it was easier to make so much more of an effort. So, feeling guilty today, with the little time I had left of the afternoon, I pulled out an old favorite from the recipe box, pulled my three year old (Lucas) alongside of me, and we made playdough together.

Yellow. Because that’s what he chose.

He giggled and blushed when I praised him for his stellar stirring abilities, and was thrilled at the feel of the warm, soft dough in his hands when we were finished. We proceeded to make many (many) snakes (yellow ones), and snowmen (also yellow).

The laundry didn’t get put away, but it was time well spent. Preschoolers are so fun.

As I was sitting there with him, I thought that perhaps I should share this time tested recipe with you in the next blog I write. There’s a million recipes for homemade playdough out there. Perhaps you have an even better one. But since this is the one I’ve used for all eight of my babies, this is the one that’s special to me.

So here’s the recipe I’ve used for many years. It takes 5 minutes and turns out perfect. It makes quite a bit, so I often halve it and make two separate batches so I can make two different colors. Stored in a baggie, it tends to last a long time (if it doesn’t end up drying up in little balls all over the house first -please tell me I’m not the only one).

Play Dough:

2 cups of flour

1 cup salt

4 tsp cream of tartar

2 cups water with a few drops of food coloring added

2 Tbsp oil

Mix all in a pan and cook over medium heat until it forms a hard ball. Knead. (It will be quite hot initially, so wait until it cools a bit if the kids want to help with this step)

*optional add ins:

Glitter, for glitter dough!

This was popular with my three girls when they were younger. I even made some for birthday gifts a time or two.

A couple drops of lavender essential oil for a calming experience! (hey, a mom’s gotta try)


There’s just something a little extra special about playing with playdough that’s been made with love. 


playdough recipe

Tomorrow may be a much less productive day. I’m just not that good all the time. But I’m certainly going to make time to enjoy the wonder of a preschooler.

Because blink, and it’s …









  1. Oh Elizabeth I feel that guilt all the time. I have been so busy writing that I will quite often stop and think “oh god, I need to spend time with my five year old. Quality time.”

    I actually think this guilt is a good thing because it happens quite often, so we stop quite often if we listen to it, and we hug, we read, we visit, we go have a girls’ day together, whatever quality we can get.

    Keep up the amazing work.

    1. Wow, thanks Shanna. Staying in tune with our children’s needs is so important. It can be hard to balance it all. You keep up the good work as well <3.

  2. This is so great and I will absolutely be trying it! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I never made homemade playdoh with my kids, but I am definitely going to be making it with my grandsons at their next sleepover. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You won’t regret it!

  4. We love DIY playdough! Terrible story- A few years ago while working as a preschool director we made playdough- well a students dog ate it that evening and the salt content is verrryyyyy dangerous for animals. That poor puppy had a very high vet bill (needed fluids and several tests) The salt caused its brain to swell. Long story short, the dog lived and I always made a huge note to “keep out of reach of pets.” Not my career highlight! But it didn’t stop us from making it again!

    1. Oh, yikes! Good to know – we just got a new puppy!

  5. Sweet reminder to cherish the time with our babies!

  6. Home made play dough is the best! Have you ever tried peanut butter playdough? It’s wonderful especially for the littles because they can eat it and it’s no big deal!

    1. I haven’t! But I’ve heard it’s pretty good 🙂

  7. This is an awesome idea for my nieces! Love it!

    1. You’ll be the favorite Aunt!

  8. Play dough sounds fun to make. I’ve never really tried; maybe it’s time to give it a go. Now I have a recipe.

    1. You sure do. Good luck!

  9. We love making our own play dough. I haven’t used cream of tartar. The added glitter sounds so much fun I love shiny lol

  10. Making my own playdough is on my to-do list. I’m coming back for this recipe!

  11. What a great craft idea! I would love to make the glitter dough with essential oils for myself! Also, I LOVE to make zucchini lasagna and now I really want to try zucchini brownies! Great post!

    1. Ha Ha! Sorry. And Thanks!

  12. I always wondered how to make homemade play dough! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  13. Love this post! That time you spent making the tortillas as with the playdoh will be great memories for your kids! As moms I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit sometimes. You sound like a great mom and you take time out for all of your kids.

  14. Play dough is wonderful for any age! I will save this recipe!

  15. I didn’t know homemade play dough was so easy! Great post!

  16. I hear you, I used to do so much with my young kids and then life got in the way as they got older.

    1. Glad to hear I’m not the only one!

  17. I have always loved homemade playdough. We used to make all different scents.

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