Sensory Play Activity: Easiest No-Cook Play Dough Recipe


Hooray For Play Dough!

Even though I’m not a huge fan of using food stuff as play materials, I do love me some homemade play dough. This recipe is my hands-down favorite because the dough is velvety smooth, lasts so long, and is so simple that even my two-year-old can practically make this one all by himself. It requires only four ingredients and zero cooking…I wish every recipe was like that!


1 Cup Flour (any kind, including gluten-free)

1/2 Cup Salt

2 Tablespoons Vegetable or Coconut Oil

1/2 Cup Cold Water

                                                                     1 TBS. Cream of Tartar

Coloring and Scent:

                       If you want to stick with some au natural dough, some easy coloring choices are:

Cinnamon (a favorite!)


Dried Ginger

Dried Turmeric

Dried Mustard

Dried Beetroot Powder

Dried Blueberries (pulverized)

Dried Paprika

Dried Flowers and/or Herbs like lavender or dandelions (crushed or whole pieces, depending on the look you’re going for with the dough)

You can also add the water from boiling beets or onion skins in place of the plain water, as long as it is cold. 

Essential Oils can make the dough smell amazing! I add it to the vegetable oil before adding it to the mix. 

Why Make Play Dough?

Any kind of baking projects or the like, including no-cook play dough, are fantastic learning experiences. Here’s why:

*Math Skill building when measuring ingredients, counting, and recognizing numbers.

*Science Skills building with reactions, cause and effect, understanding properties, and scientific inquiry.

*Literacy and Language skill building with discussion, “reading” a recipe, using new language to describe texture or ingredients.

*Fine motor skills and muscles are strengthened with this kind of play, which is important for handwriting, drawing, and all kinds of detailed work with the hands.

*Creativity and self-esteem building by trying new things and making all kinds of things with the dough.

*Sensory Play is essential play! It can calm the nervous system and build synapses in the brain.

If you have a child that doesn’t like sensory play because they don’t like the feeling on their fingers, you can ask if they want to try it with mittens or gloves at first to get used to the activity. For some children, sensory play is like food, there is no pressure to try it, but if it is continually offered in all kinds of ways there might be a time they try it and enjoy it!

Using textured rollers, cookie cutters, wooden peg people, or whatever other kitchen tools you have around can make this easiest no-cook play dough recipe even more fun! The dough itself will last for weeks in an airtight container or Ziplock bag, even longer if you keep it in the fridge. After a few weeks, I will add a small damp cloth napkin or paper towel to the container or bag to keep it from getting too dry. It’s a favorite in my family and I love to pull it out whenever we need a quick and fun sensory experience!

What is your favorite play dough tool or tip?

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