Last week we had a post about the benefits of making play dough with children from scratch and sharing with you just how much they enjoy the process. In this post we want to share the actual recipe we use most commonly at the school, and what we use to color and decorate it naturally. This recipe uses only organic ingredients that are safe for touch as well as taste (although it really doesn’t taste very nice).
Remember that the beauty of this process is that you can fix anything about it — from color saturation to the consistency of the dough itself. And also remember that children will enjoy experimenting either way, whether or not you feel like everything is working out as you planned!
Organic play dough DIY recipe
- Organic all purpose wheat flour – 1 cup
- Water – about 200ml
- Citric acid – 2 teaspoons
- Salt – 2 tablespoons
- Organic vegetable oil – 1 tablespoon
- Mix water, salt and acid in a small pot and warm it up to make the salt and acid dissolve faster. The salt and acid are important to get the right texture for the play dough. Dissolving them in the warm water helps to combine them better with the flour.
- Place your flour into a large bowl and add about half of the water. Combine the mixture with a spoon and add more water in the process. Don’t rush with water though, you can always add a bit more as you need to. But also don’t worry if you feel you put too much all at once — in the worst case scenario you can just add a bit more flour. 🙂
- Once combined with the spoon the best you can, start kneading it with your hands into smooth dough
- When somewhat combined, make an indentation in the bowl of dough and pour the spoonful of vegetable oil in it. Knead the oil thoroughly into the hough, but don’t worry about bringing it to perfection at this step.
- Now place it into a plastic bag and leave it be for 15-30 minutes. This step really helps making it silky and smooth.
- Knead it a bit more, it should be quite easy to do so now and it should feel very pliable and silky.
- Divide into about 4-5 individual pieces which you now are ready to color with natural colorants. See next section. 🙂
Organic natural colorants
When starting the coloring process it is always a good approach to start with just a small amount of colorant and then add more if deeper color is desired.
Some powders, like turmeric or spirulina are very intense in large amounts. Put just a sprinkle of it, then knead well for few minutes. And then if you wish deeper color do another sprinkle.
You can always make the color deeper by adding more if desired. You can always make it lighter by mixing with a batch of uncolored dough as well.
When adding these natural colorants remember that adding a lot of powder (like charcoal or chocolate) may make the dough tougher. The remedy for that is to simply add a bit more water into the dough and knead it to combine.
And if you use liquid, like fresh beets or carrot juice, then you might need to add a bit more flour to the dough. Just sprinkle it on your working surface and knead the flour with it to combine.
Natural play dough colorants
- Pink — Beet juice
- Yellow — turmeric
- Green — spirulina
- Blue — Blue Butterfly Pea flower powder
- Brown — chocolate powder
- Black or grey — charcoal (to achieve a full black color it requires adding a lot of powder)
Decorating with flowers, seeds, branches
When it comes to decorating little creations we offer children a variety of natural materials. These are beautiful, non-toxic and sustainable. From our own garden we have an abundance of dried flower petals and children love using them in all sorts of ways. The other natural decorations are various large seeds or grains, pieces of bark and bits of branches. Black peppercorns are great for making eyes when child makes an animal. Sometimes we also find some feathers in the forest and those make great additions to the play-dough decorations.
Please remember to be considerate of nature and pollinators
Here, we want to ask to remember to be considered to nature and pollinators when foraging for decorations. We never collect flowers in the forest, or break branches. We never buy feathers as the sourcing of them is rather questionable. Collect things with children that the nature already discarded — a piece of fallen branch or fallen leaves, a feather a bird has lost, little rocks or pine cones.
For dried flower petals — we always collect flower petals in our garden from the flowers that are nearly done blooming and are about to start shedding the petals. Roses and peonies are great for that. We also collect a lot of little violets that grow all over our lawn.
Sprinkle some spices for color and smell
Children also really like to ‘color’ their creations by sprinkling various colorful spices over them. We usually have little jars on the table that they can shake from and the kids generously sprinkle (or rather pile mounds of them) on their pies, cookies or animals. We are thinking though that we may start allocating each child a small dish with a spoon from where they can take small amounts of the desired color, just so we can keep up with buying enough of the beloved colorful spices. :))
Lastly, we wanted to share a source of our small wooden rolling pins which we love and a lovely set of animal-shaped cookie cutters from IKEA (only $2.99). And now IKEA will ship all of their online orders, so even if you don’t have an IKEA near you you can order a set online. They are fun!
Beautiful, non-toxic and sustainable craft
We highly recommend making your own play dough at home or school with your little wildlings. It gives them so much joy and a tremendous outlet for creativity, while also teaching them to be self-reliant and resourceful. And all that while being truly non-toxic and completely sustainable. Every little piece of the dough or decorations eventually go straight into compost once it is deemed no longer usable for the children anymore.