A recipe for the little ones ... or stress relief: homemade play dough

I never thought I would be THAT parent: the one who makes everything from scratch, including play dough! When it comes to food, you know how I do make a lot of things from scratch in order to avoid harmful additives, like making my own coconut milk, vegetable broth, or hummus. I am picky about how much plastic we have in the house around Baby Zand, and have opted for a wooden children's table, she eats from real plates and bowls, and has a stainless steel water bottle. But I have never thought about the art materials we use, and I feel totally fine with that.

I mean who has time to cook up a batch of play dough or watch crayons melt into new shapes in the oven? Seriously, there are only 24 hours in a day, and about 10 of them are filled with cooking food for me :-). I absolutely have to credit Jean Van't Hul for changing my mind. I picked up her book "The Artful Parent" a year ago for more inspiration for art projects with Baby Zand. By now we have made more than half of the ideas in the book with friends on play dates. The play dough recipe kept coming up, and at some point I thought "fine, I can make this a fun rainy afternoon activity for Baby Zand". Let's just say, we will never buy play dough again! The homemade version is just divine. The smell, the texture, everything about it is so much better than the store bought version. Plus we use non toxic food coloring, so I don't even mind if Baby Zand or puppy Haigo nibble on it a little bit. We have already made 5 batches of this, and it actually takes surprisingly little time. If you ever need to entertain a child on a rainy afternoon, give this project a try. Let them measure the ingredients, and help stir and knead the dough. They love it. And if you don't have kids, use this as an amazing stress release!

This recipe is slightly adapted from "The Artful Parent":

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Makes 4 big balls:

  • 2 1/2 cups water

  • 1 1/4 cups salt

  • 1 Tbsp cream of tartar

  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 1/2 cups flour

  • essential oil (I use lemon and sweet orange, both super child friendly, optional)

  • food coloring (I like India Tree's non toxic ones)

  • glitter (optional)

  1. Start with a big, deep pan. I like to use my wok for this.

  2. Add the water, salt, cream of tartar, and oil. Stir and bring to a simmer.

  3. Add the flour, stir well, and let cook for about 3 more minutes until the dough is kneadable without sticking to your fingers.

  4. Add 10 drops of essential oils, and stir well. Don't worry, the smell will intensify once the dough cools down.

  5. Dump the dough on the countertop, and let it cool off until you can touch it to knead (about 15 minutes).

  6. Knead the dough until super smooth.

  7. Divide into portions, and form a little well in the center of each. Add the food coloring you like, as well as glitter, and knead again until the dough changes color and is sparkly.

  8. Store in jars to keep fresh.

So much fun!