A Playful Playdough Playdate: 3 Special Homemade Playdough Recipes and Whimsical Wooden Shaping Tools

Play dough is a timeless sensory experience that can really be as involved or simple as you need it to be. While there are many creative ways to engage children during a playdate or a party, nothing beats colorful handmade play dough. Yes you can always run out and buy something from the store, but there is something about handmade + beautifully colored play dough that is a little out of this world.

What is so amazing about play dough is that it touches some important areas of self exploration and sensory: creative expression (artistic, imaginative) fine motor (twisting, shaping) mathematics (cutting, building) and scientific exploration (balancing, shaping). Coupled with some wonderful wooden tools, this is always an engaging activity for one child or a whole group.

We love creating a cool playdough station on top either an oversized round wooden table or as an alternative a sanded and large rectangle or circular piece of wood. This way you can bring it outside easily or transport it anywhere in your home or wherever you are hosting the playdate. Sometimes the surface you are working on can lead to more possibilities. And as always, you should try to have the right tools. We tend to go the all wood route, especially for little hands. Not only is it a healthier choice versus plastic, but the wood feels more natural and it can be easier to use. Some of our favorite playdough wood accessories/tools are actually pottery and clay shaping tools (although before you buy some of these note that they may have stainless steel components which can be sharp and not age appropriate so steer clear of those!)






Fox Run


Now that you have some great wooden tools to set up for the little ones here are some of my all time favorite play dough recipes. I love making this with my own little ones and we use this all the time at home as well as for Whimsy Party birthday parties and enrichment play dates. These are always a crowd pleaser and not too tricky or time consuming to make at home. Huge tip here: steer clear of food coloring gels—they tend to stain your hands and surfaces. Always stick to regular food coloring whenever possible.


Blue Cloud Playdough Recipe 


  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1 1/4 c. salt
1 1/2 tbsp. cream of tartar
  • 5 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • Food coloring or liquid watercolors. (We love using blue or purple) Do not use gel food colors-terrible for play dough.
  1. Mix everything but the food coloring together in a large pot until somewhat smooth. It will be lumpy. Not to worry, the dough will get smoother as it cooks.
  2. Cook the dough over a low heat. Mix frequently. The water will slowly cook out of the mixture and you’ll notice it starts to take on a sticky dough appearance.
  3. Keep mixing until the edges of the dough along the side and bottom of the pan appear dry. Pinch a piece of dough. If it’s not gooey, the dough is ready. Add flour if it is just too gooey.
  4. Place the dough on a counter top or large cutting board that can withstand a little food coloring. Knead the warm dough until it’s smooth. Store in Ziploc bags.


Fall Scented Spice Dough


  • 1 Cup Flour
  • ½ cup of salt (not sea salt)
  • Yellow, Orange or Red Food Coloring
  • 3 tablespoons of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of allspice
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger
  • 1 cup of water


  1. Combine all the dry ingredients and add the water at the end.
  2. Spread dough out on the counter and knead the dough until all components are blended. If you choose the red or orange color note that you might to add extra coloring to make this nice and bright. Either way, add as little or as much coloring as you like!
  3. As with the blue cloud dough and the magic chalk dough recipe below, always add a bit more flour if the dough seems to wet for your liking.
  4. Store in Ziploc bags.


Soft Sparkle Dough Recipe


  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup scented hair conditioner
  • glitter
  • food coloring


  1. Combine the first 2 ingredients—it will start off feeling too dry but just keep kneading.
  2. Once the ball has formed add some dabs of glitter and a few drops of your favorite color to the mix.
  3. As with the above 2 recipes, store in Ziploc bag. If the dough starts to dry out over time just add a bit of conditioner to the dough and it will soften up again (and smell great too!)