Easy and Fun No-Cook Play Dough Recipe That Kids Can Help Make

Two girls (1-3) playing with children's play clay, close-up
Whether you use store-bought Play Doh or homemade play dough, the result is the same -- fun for your preschooler!. Marilyn Conway/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images
Total Time 20 min
Prep 10 min, Cook 10 min
Yield 1 bowl

Does your preschooler like to play with play dough? What kid doesn't? (What adult doesn't?) Sure, it's easy enough to head to the store and pick up a can or a plates for your little one, but why not try making your own? With this super easy no cook play dough recipe, you can!

One of the easiest homemade craft recipes around, this recipe for no cook play dough is something you and preschooler can make together. You can make up a bunch, divide it up and then add different colors to each batch for even more fun -- your little one will never know that it didn't come from the store!

A word of caution however -- this no-cook play dough does use boiling water as one of the ingredients. Use every caution when handling boiling water around your little one! If your preschooler really wants to help, let them get involved once the first kneading is finished. They can be a part of changing the color of the dough, which is really a lot of fun!

Once the play dough has been made, give your preschooler some fun props to play with to help stimulate their imagination. Many store-bought play dough kits come with different props and toys, but you probably have a ton of great materials right in your house that can be just as fun to play with!

Give some of these a try:

  • cookie cutters
  • blocks
  • comb
  • buttons
  • straws
  • spoons
  • leaves
  • small toys (such as Little People or plastic animals)
  • fly/bug swatter
  • feathers
  • rolling pin
  • paper clips
  • clothes pins
  • binder clips
  • string
  • marbles 
  • plastic cups
  • rocks
  • any plastic kitchen tool -- spatula, whisk, and slotted spoons are great -- you may want to have a special set of kitchen tools just for this purpose (find some at dollar-type stores)

For children under the age of three, be cautious of small items that could be choking hazards.

Not only is play dough great fun for kids, it can be a great teaching tool as well. Play dough helps kids work their creative muscles as the come up with things to make and build, but it also helps with fine motor skills. When kids play with play dough with their friends, they learn how to compare and contrast, as well as how to vocalize and describe what it is they are creating. 

This recipe will last for about a week in an air tight container. It is safe if your child accidentally ingests it, but that is not recommended (it does not taste very good!). 

If after your preschooler is done playing you want to save your little one's creation, this play dough will dry out, depending on the thickness of the dough, between one and four days. Or, to speed up the process, place the dough on a cookie sheet on a low oven (about 200 degrees) for about two hours.

Kids can help make this recipe by:

  • Pouring the dry ingredients together
  • Kneading together all the ingredients in a big bowl -- but make sure the water has cooled off first!
  • Adding the food coloring to the different batches of dough
  • Cleaning up when everything is finished
  • Placing the used play dough in an air-tight container


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • food coloring (optional)


  1. Carefully (the water will be very hot) knead together all the ingredients on a floured board for about five minutes, save for the food coloring. Safety tip! If your child wants to help, you start the kneading process. Then, once the dough has cooled a bit, then let your little one participate. Or, just let them get involved in the next step -- adding the color. 
  2. Once you have made a good mixture, add food coloring as desired. Be sure to use separate bowls for each individual color that you want to use. Just a few drops of color will do. You can always add more as you mix it in. Make sure the food coloring you buy is washable! And wash your hands well after you mix. 
  1. You can store the no cook play dough for up to a week in a sealed, airtight container.

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