Charlie’s preschool teachers created a schedule so that the children parents in the class rotate who brings in snacks and who brings in playdough for everyone to share for the week. The first time it was our turn to bring playdough I thought, “No problem. We have TONS of Play-Doh. Oh, wait, we’re supposed to MAKE the playdough? They’re kidding, right?” See the difference there — Play-Doh versus playdough? One is the smelly stuff that comes in the yellow and red canisters and one is, well, something we’re supposed to make, with ingredients, on the stove top. It’s not that I’m opposed to making playdough — after all, it is very inexpensive to make — it’s just that buying it is also inexpensive and, well, a lot quicker because not all of the ingredients in playdough are common pantry items. In fact, in the 15 or more years of cooking for myself, I have never, not even once, had reason to have cream of tartar or food coloring in my cupboards. What the heck is cream of tartar anyhow? So the first time we had to make playdough for preschool I was lucky enough that my neighbor had both cream of tartar and food coloring and she lent them to me the night before we were supposed to show up at school in the morning with the playdough. (My neighbor also has young children and all I can assume is that she had cream of tartar and food coloring because she’s had to make playdough too. Well, actually, she does a lot of baking so I think she uses food coloring for that, but since I don’t really bake I certainly never had any use for food coloring.) That being said, we’re now fully stocked with cream of tartar and food coloring and have made playdough a few times. It’s actually sort of fun and fairly quick. Charlie helps add the ingredients and especially likes adding the food coloring. I don’t let him knead the dough though because it’s quite hot.
The other day I noted Charlie’s top 5 toddler-to-preschooler toys and playdough was on my list. So I thought I’d post the preschool recipe for homemade playdough in case you’re feeling creative. I should note that this makes quite a lot of playdough — much more than comes in one can of Play-Doh.
- 2 cups flour
- 2 Tbsp cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2 cups water
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- food coloring
- essential oil, extract, spice, or glitter (if you’re really feeling fancy)
Combine all ingredients into a large pan on the stove over low heat. Stir to combine and continue stirring. The mixture will start to thicken. After about 5-10 minutes, it will pull away from the sides of the pan and form a ball in the center. Remove the pan from the heat. Allow the playdough to cool slightly, then turn onto a floured surface. Knead, adding more flour if necessary, to achieve a non-sticky, pliable dough. Store in an airtight container.