Let’s be honest here- we haven’t always been the biggest fan of our kids’ toddler playdough activities. Especially first thing in the morning. But with a little time and attention, we’ve found some exciting new ways to play with playdough that have managed to change our mind.
So whether you’re looking for a super soft homemade playdough recipe, playdough centers for preschool, or even a way to improve your child’s scissor skills, we’ve got ideas to help keep your playdough time fresh and exciting- even (especially?) for that early morning sensory play.
Read on for our comprehensive list of toddler playdough activities (and our FAVORITE homemade playdough recipe).
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Super Easy Homemade Playdough Recipe
This recipe is our very favorite- and we’ve tried tons! It is soft, taste-safe (but yucky, so they won’t be tempted to eat too much) and lasts for MONTHS when stored in an airtight container.
Perfect for use with playdough tools, cookie cutters, and free play. AND it uses ingredients you probably have in your cupboard already!
Best Homemade Playdough for Toddlers
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2 tbsp Cream of Tartar
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 10-15 drops food coloring
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.
Food coloring is optional at this stage, but it's MUCH easier to achieve consistent coloring if you add it in at the same time as the water.
Over medium high heat, stir all ingredients continuously. After a few minutes, the playdough will start to thicken and become hard to stir. Try to keep stirring (or flipping) the playdough to achieve even heat.
Remove from heat when no longer sticky. Set aside to cool.
When the playdough is cool enough to touch, knead for 1-2 minutes until your playdough is soft and pliant.
Easy Toddler Playdough Activities
Get the Right Playdough Tools
There are SO many ways to play with playdough- but it helps to have the right tools. We suggest you have these on hand to help switch up your playdough play-
- Playdoh (buy in bulk if you don’t feel like making your own!)
- Play Mat to keep the mess contained
- Assorted Playdough Tools
- Cookie Cutters
- Playdough Presses
- Playdough Rollers and Cutters
- Scissors (Perfect for strengthening little hands and improving cutting skills!)
Spaghetti Bead Towers
Playdough is an easy way to incorporate early learning skills. Kids can practice their shapes and letters using these mats on Amazon, and they can easily practice counting and numbers with these FREE printable donut themed mats (snag yours here).
Flavored Playdough Recipes
We LOVE our playdough recipe for the versatility and long-lasting quality, but every once in a while it feels good to change things up. Toddler playdough activities are SO easy to change up by adding a few simple ingredients.
If you’re looking for additional smells, flavors, and textures, give one of these flavored/scented playdough recipes a try.
This playdough from Conservamom features marshmallows, coconut oil, and bright, fun colors. It doesn’t last quite as long as other playdoughs, but it’s stretchy qualities and yummy smell (and taste!) make it a welcome change from your usual recipe.
Peanut Butter Playdough
Another hit from Conservamom, this playdough features peanut butter and powdered sugar for a full sensory experience. With the look, smell, and even a similar texture to real peanut butter, your kids will love to roll this dough out (and probably sneak a taste when you’re not looking, if we’re being honest. Get the recipe here.
Hot Cocoa Playdough Recipe
This hot cocoa playdough recipe smells AMAZING as it cooks. With full chocolate flavor and easy-to-mold results, this is the perfect combination of a unique playdough recipe and a playdough play center. Find the recipe (and suggested play instructions!) here.
Gluten Free Playdough Recipe
If you’ve got sensitive kids at home (particularly those with allergies to food dye or gluten), this recipe for gluten free playdough is the toddler playdough activity you’ve been searching for. Featuring gluten free flour and all-natural dyes, this is a playdough recipe you can feel good about giving your kids.
Looking for something seasonal to add to your holiday playdough play? We’ve got the recipes for Pumpkin Spice, Gingerbread, and Peppermint Playdough in this blog post.
Toddler Playdough Centers (Great for Preschool, too!)
Add a little STEM-inspired excitement to your playdough center with this Playdough Volcano experiment. It’s fizzy, scientific fun (and is a GREAT way to use up playdough that is nearing the end of its usefulness). Get the full instructions here.
Apple Pie Playdough Invitation
Your kids are going to LOVE this apple pie playdough invitation. Using two colors (and scents!) of playdough, they’ll create their very own pretend pie. This playdough activity has it all- sensory play, a reading connection, pretend play, and fine motor skills. Definitely one to try!
Apple-Themed Playdough Play
Still got that apple-scented playdough? Use it again in this low-prep toddler playdough center featuring ways to make your own apples using playdough, sticks, and leaves. Read more here.
Fairy Princess Playdough Prompt
Got a kiddo with a flair for fashion? Set them up with this Fairy Princess Playdough Prompt and watch their creative minds get to work!
Using beads, gems, and- of course- playdough, kids will dress their dolls and toys up in all the latest fashions. Well, at least they’ll try to. Either way, it’s some princess inspired fun for everyone!
Good Night, Construction Site Playdough Set
Is your little one obsessed with all things construction? This Good Night, Construction Site playdough tie in is the perfect addition to any toddler playdough center. A few constructions trucks, playdough, and some rocks make for an excellent new way to play with playdough.
Stuck in the Mud Toddler Playdough Activity
While you’re into the dirt theme, take a peek at this Stuck in The Mud Playdough Center from Glitter on a Dime. It’s a new take on playing with cars, and we bet your kids will love it just as much as ours did.
Do You Want to Build a Snowman?
Every Day Above Dirt has a fantastic way to incorporate your Mr. Potato Head pieces into your playdough play by using them to make a snowman. (She also has a super fun cloud dough recipe to change things up). It’s a low-prep way to have some winter fun with your kids. Get the details here!
Holiday Playdough Ideas
Valentine’s “Candy” Playdough Invitation
Put that chocolate playdough to work with this choclate shop invitation to play. Using an empty box of chocolates, kids will whip up pretend sweets of their own for some sweetly inspired play. Get details on how to set up this amazing little preschool playdough center here.
St. Patrick’s Day “Pot o’ Gold” Playdough
With some mint extract and a little glitter, you can turn your boring playdough into something truly magical. Find our special recipe and some sensory play ideas to make St. Patrick’s Day a little more fun.
Halloween Jack O’Lantern Playdough Center
With some scented orange playdough, googly eyes, and dry black beans, your kids can put a Halloween twist on their playdough session. Find details on how to present this process based Halloween project here.
Winter Holidays Playdough
There are SO MANY ways for you and your kiddos to play with playdough that go WAY beyond your typical play. Challenge yourself to try out one of our toddler playdough activities or recipes every month until you’ve build up a stash of toddler playdough centers to last you the whole year through.
What would YOU add to the list?
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