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Raising NoBo Kids

Homemade Play-Doh

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Play-doh.

Just the word can send shivers up the spines of some parents.

However, I am not one of them. I love the stuff. I can play with it with my kid for hours. If the colors get mixed up, then yay! new colors! If those colors then turn into a glob of ugliness or it gets too stiff to use, then just toss it and make some more.

Wait what?

Yes, friends, you just make more. How did I gain this knowledge and skill? Well, settle in and let me tell you.

I am extremely lucky to be the daughter of a teacher. An early-childhood expert, my mom taught special education for 36 years. Special ed teachers are part educator, part medical professional, and part wizard, and my mom is no exception. As we all know, public education is wildly underfunded and we often find teachers, like my mom, using their own paychecks to purchase supplies to keep their classrooms up and running.

I should stop here and explain that play-doh is incredible for childhood development. Kids love it, and what they don’t know is that playing with it increases hand strength, dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and enhances their imagination. If you are a special education teacher, you may often find yourself with a classroom full of kids who need this kind of help, and with your resources stretched pretty thin. Enter this play-doh recipe to save the day.

The following is the best play-doh recipe you can find on the internet. It keeps well in play-doh jars or plastic baggies and when its shelf life is done, you can toss it and make some more. Think of my mom and her fellow teachers when you do.

Homemade Play-Doh

Equipment

  • Mixing bowl
  • Spatula
  • Nitrile gloves (optional)
  • Silicone baking sheet or sheet of press and seal (optional)

Materials

  • 1 cup table salt NOT kosher
  • 2 cups water - BOILING
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tblsp oil corn, veggie, canola - whatever you've got
  • 2 tblsp cream of tartar DO NOT skip this
  • gel food coloring regular works too, but this is 1000x better

Instructions

  • Gather your ingredients
    play doh ingredients
  • Add salt to the mixing bowl. Do not use kosher salt for this, the granules are too big for this application. Regular table salt is all you need.
  • Add boiling water to the salt and stir. This will create a super saturated solution, so the salt won't dissolve completely. This is okay! Stir for about a minute and then move on to the next step.
  • Add flour, cream of tartar, and oil to the bowl. This will come together in a dough pretty quickly. It will be sticky. You can add more flour later.
  • This makes about 42oz of play doh. Split it up however want. If you're refilling old containers, use them as your guide. I did that and used ziplock bags for the extra.
  • Once you've separated the dough, it's time to make it colorful! Gel food coloring is the unsung hero of this operation. I've made it plenty of times with regular food coloring, and it works perfectly! However, the colors are never as vibrant as I want them to be. Enter the gel. This stuff was a $10 amazon purchase and I'll never go back. That said, if all you have is good old fashioned McCormick food coloring, use it. No one will be the wiser.
  • Put some press'n seal on your counter or if you've got a silpat that will work as well. Take my word for it, you don't want to tie dye your counters today. This is also where you want to put on some gloves.
  • Add as much or as little of the coloring as you'd like. My goal here was a light bubble gum pink.
    Adding the food coloring
  • If you've ever made pasta, here's your time to shine. Fold the dough in on itself, covering the dye.
  • Knead that dough until the color is even throughout!
    pink play doh
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Kait Caviston

Kait is a recent arrival in Pennsylvania, having spent 5 years living in Pocatello, Idaho. A New Jersey native, Kait and her husband Tim, along with their 3 year old and pup, moved to Bellevue in June 2019. She brings life experience and years of editing journal articles to NoBo Neighbor.

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