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The ultimate round-up of play dough recipes, activities, tools and more.

Ultimate Play Dough Play Resources – All in One Spot

Image Credit (cropped & text added): © Chris Parfitt | 05.11.08 | CC by 2.0

You know we can’t get enough of play dough play around here.  Today Amanda of Not Just Cute is back with everything we need to maximize the kids’ interest in play dough play as well as ideas on how to maximize the learning benefits of this fabulous art material.

Read on for the ultimate round-up of play dough recipes and activities!

Play dough is a staple of childhood. Like story time and hide and seek, it’s an activity that’s endured over the generations — and for good reason! In addition to being just plain fun, it’s an activity that’s loaded with powerful learning potential.

When kids sink their fingers into a squishy pile of play dough they’re getting ready to practice a litany of critical developmental skills. But don’t ask them about those skills. They’ll be too busy having fun to answer!

Here’s a look at the skills they’ll be practicing:

Fine Motor Skills

The hands are full of tiny muscles with a really important job. Gripping a pencil, holding a paintbrush, or wielding a spatula all require strength and control in this group of muscles. When kids smoosh, stretch, and roll their play dough it’s like hitting the gym for a fine motor workout! Adding accessories for kids to poke into the dough (like pipe cleaners, toothpicks, googly eyes) goes even further to work the hands in a different way, targeting the muscles needed for that all-important pincer grasp.

Sensory Play

As the hands work through different textures of dough, their hands are also picking up sensory information. Does the dough feel gritty, smooth, sticky? Couple that with the potential for different scents play dough can have and you’ve created a feast for the senses. (If you want to know more about why sensory play is so beneficial for young kids, check out this post at my site, Not Just Cute.)


Play dough is like a blank canvas. It can be anything your child (or you yourself, if you’re willing to play along) can imagine. It’s the ultimate open-ended activity, encouraging kids to think outside of the box and create something unique.

Language Skills

Many kids engage in an ongoing narrative as they create, building language skills in the process of building with the dough. Whether it’s an elaborate story, a play-by-play commentary of their process, or comparisons between the things they’ve built, they’re practicing valuable language skills. Descriptive words, along with comparisons (bigger than/smaller than) and positional words like “on top of” or “between” pack a powerful punch for budding linguistic skills and critical thinking as well!

Social/Emotional Connections

Perhaps the most surprising benefit play dough delivers is in a therapeutic sense. Most people find working the dough to be a soothing activity. The squishing and pounding can be a regular outlet for everyday emotional stress or a go-to activity for redirecting angry energy in the moment. Additionally, the act of creating, building, sharing, and working side by side with others is an excellent way to foster self-confidence and social skills.

There’s no shame in popping open a container of the store-bought stuff to give your child this powerful experience, but if you’re interested in going the homemade route (a process that has it’s own bundle of benefits if you let your child help out) here are some of the best recipes we’ve collected from around the web.

An excellent collection of homemade play dough recipes (especially love the Jell-O and calming lavender versions) - pinning for a rainy day!

Awesome Textures:

Funfetti Textured Playdough Fun {Childhood 101}

An Old Favorite with a Smooth New Twist {Not Just Cute}

Peanut Butter Playdough {MPMK}

Softest No Cook Play Dough {Kids Activities Blog}

Delicious Scents:

Best Homemade Playdough Ever: JELLO Playdough {MPMK} (pictured above)

Lavender Play Dough Recipe {The Imagination Tree}

Scented Playdough: Cinnamon Spice {Not Just Cute}

Orange and Lemon Play Dough Recipes {The Imagination Tree} (pictured above)

Lemon and Eucalyptus No-Cook Play dough Recipe {One Perfect Day}

Amazing Effects:

Glowing Play Dough Recipe {Tinkerlab}

Electric Play Dough and Circuits for Kids {Jennifer Cooper of Classic Play via PBS Kids}

An amazing roundup of play dough activities - pinning for rainy days!

The Best Accessories and Activities:

34 Things to Make and Do with Playdough {Hands On as We Grow}

Chocolate Playdough Cupcakes {Nurture Store}

Play Dough Inventor’s Workshop {The Imagination Tree} (pictured above)

Three Essential Play Dough Tools (*that you may already have!) {Tinkerlab}

Rainbow Playdough Color Sorting {No Time for Flash Cards}

People Play Dough Mats {Pickle Bums}


What’s your favorite way to play with play dough?

(Bonus Question: What’s your favorite way to SPELL play dough/playdough/play doh?)

Want even more play dough, slime, and gak recipes? Check our all time favorite MPMK recipes here.


Amanda Morgan - Not Just CuteAmanda Morgan is a full time mom to four busy boys and a part-time trainer and consultant for a non-profit children’s organization. She writes about intentional whole child development on her blog, Not Just Cute.




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