People have enjoyed playing with play doh for generations. It’s an affordable, engaging activity. You can buy commercial products at the store. Or you and your child can have fun making it on your own.
This activity is a great way to introduce your children to simple scientific exploration. You can even make edible play doh that’s safe for toddlers. It’s a fun at-home science activity for the entire family.
What Is Play Doh?
Play doh goes by several accepted spellings, including playdough, playdoh, and play-doh. There are many different types of play doh. They’re all essentially stretchy, doughy substances that kids like to play with.
When you make most standard play dohs, you’re causing a chemical reaction to occur between your ingredients. During a chemical reaction, your ingredients combine into an entirely new substance. In this case, the result — or product — is an engaging toy for your kids.
What Is Play Doh Made Of?
You can make play dohs with a wide variety of ingredients. But most standard doughs require a lot of salt. Even commercial play doh does. This is because the salt helps the proteins that are found in other ingredients, like flour, stick together and lock in moisture.
Is Play Doh Edible?
Play doh can be edible if you make it exclusively with edible, food-grade ingredients. For your safety, you should avoid eating play doh that's commercially manufactured. The only exception is if the packaging clearly states that it’s safe to consume.
How to Make Edible Play Doh
There are a lot of fun, tasty recipes that you can use to make edible play doh. Their varying recipes and ingredients lead to diverse tastes and textures. If you don’t like one, give another a try. Or make a lot of different kinds at once and compare and contrast their textures, stretchiness, and other properties.
All of the ingredients in these doughs are edible. Luckily for your child, they remain edible when combined. So this is one of the few science experiments where you’re encouraged to taste your creations. Just make sure that the dough hasn’t acquired any dirt or debris from playtime before they give it a taste.
The ingredients and steps for making these doughs are listed below. All of these edible playdough recipes require a mixing bowl and some sort of spoon or whisk. Some need you to use a microwave. In this case, make sure that your bowl is microwave safe.
Standard edible dough. This is a basic kind of edible play doh. Out of all of the listed recipes, it has a consistency that’s most similar to both storebought play doh and actual bread. The ingredients involved in this recipe include:
- 2 cups of flour — any kind that you happen to have on hand should work
- 0.5 cup of salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil — or any kind of cooking oil that you have on hand
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
Follow these steps to create this edible dough:
- Have an adult start to boil the water. You can do this on the stove or in a microwave.
- Mix the flour, salt, oil, and cream of tartar in your bowl.
- Carefully add the boiling water while mixing the dough. An adult needs to handle this step.
- Stop adding water when the dough reaches your ideal consistency. Add more flour if it becomes too sticky.
- Feel free to keep experimenting with the amount of flour and water to change the properties of your dough.
Whipped cream play doh. As the name implies, this dough incorporates whipped cream, which lends it an airier texture than other types of dough. The ingredients in this recipe are:
- A tub of generic whipped topping
- Half of a standard box of cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
To make the dough, start by slowly kneading the cornstarch into the whipped cream. Stop when it develops a crumbly texture. Drizzle some oil over the lumpy mixture and knead it in until you’ve formed a workable ball of dough.
Oatmeal play doh. The oatmeal in this recipe gives the dough a rougher, more interesting texture than other kinds on this list. To make it, you first need to assemble the following ingredients:
- 0.5 cups uncooked oatmeal — any kind will work
- 0.25 cups flour
- 0.25 cups water
Simply mix them all together and start to play.
Chocolate play doh. This tasty dough is as good to eat as it is to play with. It involves a few more ingredients than other recipes. But it’s worth the work — especially for chocolate lovers. The ingredients include:
- 0.5 cups of butter or butter-substitute
- 0.75 cups white sugar
- 0.5 cups brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1.5 cups flour
- 0.5 cups cocoa powder
Follow these steps to make this dough:
- Thoroughly mix both sugars with the butter.
- Separately mix the 3 tablespoons of water with the 2 teaspoons of baking powder.
- Carefully mix the water mixture into the sugar-butter mixture.
- Add in all of the remaining ingredients.
- Add flour if the final dough is too sticky, or add water if it’s too dry.
Marshmallow play doh. This is a fun, sticky dough that requires a microwave to make. The ingredients are:
- 2 cups of marshmallows
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil or vegetable shortening
- 8 to 10 tablespoons of cornstarch
Follow these steps to make the dough:
- Combine the marshmallows and coconut oil.
- Microwave them until the marshmallows are fluffy. This should only take about 30 seconds, so keep a close eye on them while they cook.
- Continue to add cornstarch until the dough takes on a reasonable texture. Start by mixing with a spoon or mixer, then move to your hands when it’s less sticky.
Vanilla play doh. This is a simple dough that’s fun to eat! It only requires two ingredients — a container of vanilla frosting and 2.75 cups of powdered sugar. Then mix the sugar into the frosting, half a cup at a time. Stop when it reaches a consistency that you enjoy.
Other Ways to Experiment With Edible Play Doh
Once you’ve made your dough, create a surface where your child can safely play with it. You can ask them to answer simple scientific questions while they play. For example, have them see how far the dough can stretch before it breaks.
You can also add a few drops of food coloring to all of these doughs to make them more exciting. Try using cookie cutters and plastic knives to shape the dough into interesting forms.
No matter which dough you decide to make, you and your child will have a great time creating this squishy toy from scratch.