S.T.E.M. Craft | Homemade Play Dough

While there is nothing wrong with the store bought kind, it’s fun to explore the science behind how you make the popular sensory toy.

To make our play dough, the dry ingredients salt, flour and cream of tartar combine to produce a ‘mixture,’ without any chemical reaction occurring. As we mix the liquid ingredients with the dry ingredients, we create a ‘solution.’ When we apply heat through the boiling of the liquids, a chemical change occurs and a new ‘substance’, our play dough, is formed!

What’ You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Food coloring
  • An adult’s help

What to Do:

Mix dry ingredients:
Add the flour, salt and cream of tartar to a medium mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.
Boil liquids:
(This part is for the Adults!) Add the water, vegetable oil and food coloring to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and remove from heat.
Mix wet and dry ingredients:
Slowly pour the flour mixture into the hot water. USE CAUTION! Stir constantly until a stiff ball of dough forms (about 3 minutes). Allow the dough to cool in the pan for 5 minutes.
Knead until play dough is soft and pliable:
Remove the dough from the saucepan and place on your work center. Knead the dough with your fingers for about 2-3 minutes or until soft and pliable.


• Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

• Please use caution when mixing the dry with the wet in the hot pot! If the boiling liquid splashes, it can burn.

• It’s ok if all the dry mixture doesn’t stir into your ball of wet dough. Just combine as best you can.

• Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the dough during Step 3. We used lavender for a calming effect during indoor play on a rainy weekend!


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