This is a brilliant thing to play with, especially when you want an indoor activity. It is so easy, even little ones from about 18 months can help make it, plus it’s kneaded rather than stirred. The salt taste is so strong even my kids won’t eat it, and my eldest has been known to eat playdough made with eucalyptus oil!
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1 cup salt
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon oil
Put dry ingredients and oil in a bowl, then gradually add water and mix. When it’s a dough, turn it out onto a floured board and knead. If it’s too wet, add more flour. If it’s too dry, add water. Seriously, that’s it. It does better if left for around 20 minutes before use, which is a good time to clear up and get your tools ready. You can use it to make all sorts of things, the easiest is to roll it out and use biscuit cutters.
It can be dried naturally, or in a very cool oven. Try starting at 50C for half an hour then putting it up to 100C, how long it takes depends on how thick the pieces are but it will be a few hours. Drying too quickly will make them crack, so err on the side of caution. Any extra can be wrapped tightly and stored in the fridge for a few days, but it will dry out in air.
For younger babies – Use it to make a record of hand and foot prints, you do have to push quite firmly. Or paint it bright colours to make a mobile or simple windchime for them to watch and listen to. Just punch holes in your shapes before drying along with a circle with holes around the edge and donger, then string them together.
For older babies – Texture, taste, smell. Kneading it is fantastic fun, they can squish it and roll it. It’s safe if they try to eat it, and so strong they’re very unlikely to swallow. The salt crystals make it look shiny.
For toddlers – Try some variations like adding food colouring or different smelling oils and discuss the differences. Introduce the idea of changes – it was dry, it gets wet when it’s mixed, it dries out again, the colour changes when it cooks.
For preschoolers – measuring is a great maths and science skill. Talk about more flour, the same amount of salt and water, a cup is bigger than a tablespoon and what you do first and next. Try making two batches and doing some simple comparisons, asking “What happens if we …?”
- What happens if we put in more/less flour?
- What happens if we put in more/less water?
- What happens if we use rock salt?
- What happens if we use very fine cooking salt?
- What happens if we make the shapes thicker?
- What happens if we make the shapes longer and wider?
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