I've had this play dough recipe for years--since Montessori training--but I've never had the chance to use it until recently because 1) when I was a Montessori teacher, our teaching assistant was in charge of making play dough and a fresh batch was something we just expected in the classroom every Monday and, 2) I have been looking for and testing no-cook recipes that involve less ingredients to prepare and less pans to wash. But I haven't been successful with the no-cook alternatives (too much water, too much flour, too sticky, too powdery--there's always something I'm not getting right despite following the instructions to the dot and the measuring cups to the line). As it turns out, I thoroughly enjoy the entire play dough cooking process (and it takes just some 10 minutes to do) so here it is--my favorite (because it's only with this one that I can produce a successful batch every time--even on my first try) play dough recipe!
1 cup water
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
Pan for mixing and/or cooking
Just mix all the ingredients together. Of course I grab every opportunity to involve our now 18-month-old.
There's a chance (or certainty) of mess.
But it's fun! And cleaning up is equally (if not all the more) fun for our toddlers as well!
Quick tip: Put the food coloring in a small bowl or a more manageable bottle (test it)--it's just hard to control pouring with this kind of food coloring container we had here.
When the ingredients have been mixed together, transfer the mixture to a pan (or mix them in a pan in the first place if you like) and cook it, turning the mixture over and over with a wooden spoon/spatula.
It takes about 5 minutes for the dough to be just right--meaning it's not too sticky anymore and it's perfect for kneading.
Knead the dough and put in an airtight container.
It's great for fine motor.
And I've found that they're also great for making friends--I've had many children in my classes open up and develop socially while working on play dough beside a peer.
Cookie cutters with play dough are always favorites. Our 18-month-old held up a star, stood on her chair, and started humming (what I assume is Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star).
I particularly love how our play dough activity later on spontaneously became a matching activity--without any prompting from me. Matching the same shapes and matching shapes with their cookie cutters.
For Daddy's birthday, we took out some candles to stick into the play dough as added fine motor exercise.
There. Oh that pan you used for cooking--it's going to have some of the dough stuck to it. So just fill that with water and let that sit on the sink for a bit. In the meantime... PLAY!