Make your own play dough at home – and never buy Play-Doh again!

Looking for an easy play dough recipe? You can make your own play dough that costs less lasts longer and even smells great faster than going to the store to buy it!

Activity Box easy play dough recipe

Playing with playdough is a great activity for kids of all ages to do at home!

And in addition to being fun, playing with playdough provides a wide array of developmental, learning, and sensory benefits for kids. It helps your child develop fine motor skills and language and literacy abilities, while  encouraging them to express their creativity. (Learn more about the importance of art and crafts for your child’s development)

But what if you find out you don’t have any Play-Doh? Disaster! Maybe the lid was left off the container and it dried out, or maybe it was simply used up and you hadn’t had a chance to buy more.

Not to worry, now you can have play dough any time you need it with our easy play dough recipe!

Advantages of making your own play dough:

  • Easy and quick to make – less than 15 minutes
  • Lasts so much longer than regular Play-Doh – up to 6 months in an airtight container
  • Safe for children of all ages
  • Customize it to your child’s favourite colour (and add a scent if you want!)
  • It is clean and green! No plastic packaging to throw away
  • Economical – made from standard kitchen ingredients

What you need for our easy play dough recipe:


  • Food colouring of choice
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • Optional: 2 Tablespoons Cream of Tartar (this makes the dough stiffer, stronger and improves elasticity)


  • Cooking pot
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Kitchen board for kneading the dough

Step 1: Make the dough

  • Prepare your ingredients according to the recipe
  • Turn your stove on to medium high heat
  • Put the ingredients into a pot on the stove and mix together. Then add one cup of water and stir.

Activity Box playdough ingredients

  • Stir constantly over the heat for 3 – 5 minutes until it forms a dough consistency and comes away from the edges of the pot. It will also become thick and difficult to stir.

Cook the play dough

  • Knead the dough on a cutting board or clean counter for about 5 minutes until smooth. Careful dough will be hot!

knead your play dough

Step 2: Add colour (and scent if you want!)

  • Divide the dough into balls for colouring or make just one colour.
  • Make a divot in the centre of the ball, and drop some food colouring (and essential oils).
  • If adding glitter, add it now by sprinkling some all over the dough, then knead, then sprinkle more over, then knead again. Repeat until you are happy with the glitter effect.

Add colour, glitter and scent

Step 3: Mix to form your own play dough

  • Fold the dough over, working the food colour through the body of the play dough, trying to keep the raw dye away from your hands and the counter.
  • You could use gloves or plastic wrap at this stage to keep your hands clean – only the concentrated dye will colour your skin, so as soon as it’s worked in bare hands are fine.
  • Work the dye through, adding more as necessary to achieve your chosen colour.

Activity Box easy playdough recipe

Step 4: Have fun playing with your play dough!

Here are some fun ideas for ways your child can play with your play dough:

  • Flatten it with hands or a rolling pin
  • Roll a snake or ball
  • Poke at it with tools and decorations
  • Use cookie cutters
  • Snip it with scissors and progress to cutting out lines and shapes in the play dough
  • Build basic 3D creatures
  • Build shapes and letters by rolling out the dough into lines and curves

ActivityBox home made playdough for kids

have fun with Activity Box easy playdough recipe

When you’re done, store your playdough in an air-tight container.

Tips & Tricks:

  • If it begins to dry out, you can knead a bit of water in again to soften the dough back to usability. Once it’s dried past a certain point, however, you’ll just have to start over; thankfully it’s not terribly difficult.
  • If it gets soggy, you can re-heat it to drive off the extra water the dough absorbed overnight. This is usually the result of high humidity, but is fixable!
  • You can also bake it in the oven to make hard dough figures and ornaments, then paint or otherwise decorate the surface.

I hope you and your child like our easy play dough recipe!

If you are looking for fun arts and craft ideas, check out the DIY activities on our blog. Or if you are interested in a convenient way for your kids to learn creative thinking at home with your kids in Hong Kong, why not subscribe to ActivityBox!

Sign-up for a flexible Monthly Subscription or get the full benefits from our 3-Month Program and 6-Month Program.

Each month you’ll receive a Box with 4 art and craft activities to do together with your kids at home. Step by step instructions and all the materials you need are included, so it’s easy to get started this weekend.

Happy crafting!

~ Miss Julie