The Miracle of Playdough

No, the title to this post isn’t a joke.  Playdough is actually miraculous.  I’d been meaning to make autumn colored playdough with my after school students for several weeks.  I love the idea of using spices to color and scent the dough naturally.  Fall colors (oranges, yellows, and browns) happen to be pretty easy to achieve using common spices.  We finally got around to it on a cold day last week.  Freshly mixed with basic ingredients from the pantry, our cinnamon and turmeric doughs were warm, smooth, soft, smooshy, and smelled delicious.


Having just come in from outdoor play, my fingers were cold and stiff.  Sitting down to work alongside my students, I couldn’t believe how nice it felt to squeeze and squish the warm dough.  In fact, playdough helps build the small muscles of our hands that children will need to use scissors and hold pencils in the classroom.  Playing with playdough is also calming and soothing – easing tension, releasing pent up energy, and focusing the mind.  Furthermore, playdough certainly encourages creativity and imagination.


We had collected leaves from the playground and pressed them into the dough, admiring the beautiful prints that resulted.  Pretty soon we’d collected cups, spoons, and wooden butter knives from the kitchen to shape, cut, and mold the dough.  Such a perfect simple, soothing, and creativity-boosting activity for the end of a long day!

Playdough recipe

  1. Mix 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, and 2 tablespoons cream of tartar in a large bowl
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of your spice of choice.  Add more if needed to achieve the color and smell you like.  We did two colors/smells: cinnamon and turmeric.  I’d love to try paprika, nutmeg, and cloves as well!
  3. Pour 1 1/2 cups of boiling water into your mixture. In the future, I’d like to try adding beets or elderberries to my boiling water to increase the natural food coloring options.
  4. Mix the ingredients together to form a dough
  5. Store in a sealed container or tightly wrapped plastic bag
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1 Response to The Miracle of Playdough

  1. jolynnpowers says:

    I have a friend that has a home school with about 5 students. They use this all winter long and add wintergreen or mint or eucalyptus oils to the dough to open up stuffy noses and ad to the warmth of the dough… love this stuff for snow day projects with my son!

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