Preschool Play Dough Recipe

preschool play dough recipe
This recipe for preschool play dough couldn't be simpler. Which is great, because then you can play together that much faster!. Carlo A/Moment/Getty Images
Total Time 20 min
Prep 10 min, Cook 10 min
Yield 1 bowl of play dough

I was given this recipe for preschool play dough from my child's preschool teacher over five years ago and have been using it ever since. Both economical (the ingredients don't cost nearly as much as the store-bought kind) and fun (bring your preschooler into the kitchen and work on making it together), preschool play dough is perfect for playing with on all kinds of days -- while it's great on a rainy or super cold day, it's also fun to play with outside (and less messy!)!

At the preschool, they make this play dough in big batches, but this particular recipe is proportioned perfectly for home use. For more fun, make it up more than once, using different colors -- it's so easy and fun to make, you'll want to do that anyway. Plus, when you have more than one color, it just makes the playtime that much more fun and imaginative. 

When creating this preschool play dough, make sure not to leave out the cream of tartar, as it will keep your homemade play dough fresh in an airtight container for months (a lesson I very unfortunately learned the hard way!). If your preschooler helps you make the play dough, use caution when using the stove. Your best bet is probably to have your preschooler mix the first four ingredients (five if you are using food coloring) before you heat them up and then you take care of the rest. 


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • 1 cup flour


Combine water, oil, salt, cream of tartar, and food coloring in a saucepan and heat until warm.
Remove from heat and add flour.
Stir until it has a doughy consistency, then knead until smooth.
Store in an airtight container.

Time to Play with Preschool Play Dough!

Once the preschool play dough has been made and cooled, give your preschooler some props to use that will help stimulate their imagination. Try:

  • cookie cutters
  • blocks
  • comb
  • buttons
  • straws
  • spoons
  • leaves
  • small toys (such as Little People or plastic animals)
  • feathers
  • rolling pin
  • string
  • marbles 
  • plastic cups
  • rocks
  • any plastic kitchen tool

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

Not only is play dough great fun, 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. 

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 in a low oven (about 200 degrees) for about two hours.

Kids can help make this recipe by:

  • Pouring the ingredients together
  • Kneading together all the ingredients in a big bowl -- but make sure the water has cooled off first!
  • Cleaning up when everything is finished (this is an important lesson that you should follow whenever you make a craft with your preschooler)
  • Placing the used play dough in an air-tight container

See Also:

Easy No-Cook Play-Doh

Hasbro Changing Play Doh Set After Consumer Complaints

Microwave Play Dough

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