Play doughEvery time I try to decide on a project for the next article, I feel a little overwhelmed. The options are practically endless. Children and art have infinite possibilities ranging from extravagant and pricey to quick and thrifty. There are new unusual ideas, and there are the classic standbys that everybody loves. It’s really hard to choose.

This week, I ended up being guided by time. I didn’t have any. I needed to give my children something fun that would give them the chance to create and explore and not require any time from me. The solution was play dough. The best part about this was that I didn’t even have to go to the store. We made our own play dough!

You may wonder how that can happen when I just told you I couldn’t spend any time on this project. I have a secret. I have a pre-teen. This child is fully capable of reading a recipe, especially a three-ingredient recipe that involves no cooking. Actually, it turned out that all my children participated in making the play dough. No one would be left out of the five-minute process. It was a beautiful mess to behold. I highly recommend that you get everybody in on the madness.

Here’s what you need:

—Recipe and ingredients for play dough.

—Gel food coloring (optional).

—Various cookie cutters.

—Any plastic doodads to make shapes.

Make your dough

Play Dough Fun4The first thing you will want to do is make your play dough. Follow your own recipe instructions. We made a very simple recipe that was edible and called for three ingredients: flour, water, and oil. It can be found at When we were through making it, we decided to add color with gel food coloring. This is not necessary though. Making the play dough is really and truly part of the fun of this project. I cannot stress enough how much fun it was watching all my children do this together. Flour went everywhere. Laughter filled the kitchen when all hands were in the bowl trying to knead the play dough into submission. It was fantastic. Don’t cheat and buy your play dough! Well, I guess you can if you want. It’s your home, but you will definitely miss out on an amazing experience with your kid. This takes no time at all, and it’s worth it. I promise.

Play with the dough

Play Dough Fun3Now you get to just play! I know you have already been having fun, but this is different. This is a different type of creating. Little ones get to work on their motor skills here, and you get to work on remembering what it was like to be a child. Play dough is wonderful for that. It’s great to be able to show them how to form balls or ropes. I love helping them learn to use cookie cutters successfully with play dough. It makes the actual cookie-making in life much less stressful. It’s also a blast to let toddlers make imprints of practically anything in the house they can get their hands with the play dough. They love to press stuff into the play dough to see what it will look like. Just explore and have fun!

Possibilities and observations

Play Dough Fun2If you have made an edible play dough like we did, you have the option of throwing the creations into the oven and cooking them like bread. It’s nothing short of awesome to see their creations come out of the oven. The only thing better was to see them munching on them and sharing them with our dog. Some of the things that you might take time to observe during this activity is how well your child is interacting with others. Sharing tools can be hard when you really want to work on your own creation. This activity provides a great learning environment for that. Another skill I noticed was the helpfulness of the older kids toward the younger kids. If you don’t have older kids in your home, it might be fun to do this with cousins or neighbor kids. It’s great to let kids of all ages interact with each other and learn from each other. Obviously motor skills and observational skills are being developed in a fun way, but there’s nothing saying social skills can’t be developed with art, too!

In our home, this play dough activity ended up being much more of a success than I could have ever imagined. I hope it is for you as well! I highly recommend you make an edible play dough. There’s just something special about eating your art. Either way, I can assure that we will never be buying play dough from the store again!