Playing with play-dough

Playing with play-dough is FUN. Allowing young children to play with dough is beneficial in so many ways. It can help children to develop their skills right across the early years curriculum. It's just a matter of a little imagination!

Play-dough can be squashed, squeezed, rolled, flattened, chopped, cut, scored, raked, punctured, poked and shredded! Each one of these different actions aids fine motor development in a different way, not to mention hand-eye co ordination and general concentration. Providing a wide range of additional resources to use while playing extends the investigation and creative play possibilities endlessly.

Providing small items like buttons, sequins, pasta, pebbles, shells and straws (and more) for children to select to use whilst playing with dough, will encourage pincer control (using forefinger and thumb to pick up small things.) Poking in objects and then pulling them out aids hand co-ordination

Learning Through Play

As soon as you introduce open ended play items play dough becomes the perfect medium for numerous types of imaginative play. The list is literally endless....

Candles and cake cases leads to a birthday party, counting out candles and singing! Don't forget to add an oven because it'll need cooking!

An empty chocolate tray encourages children to roll balls for sweets and embellish them with patterns and small pieces.

A number of funnels may become periscopes on a submarine.

A range of toppings become a pizza that can be divided.

Why not try for more dough activities.

Why not make your child a play-dough toolkit in a D.I.Y. Box?

Just add...rolling pins, plastic knives, scissors, pizza cutters, potato masher, garlic press/dough machines, cookie cutters, plastic scales; icing tube; turn-table etc. a muffin tin, egg carton, chocolate box, plates, cups, cake cases, etc. pasta shapes, shells, buttons, leaves, pine cones, craft matchsticks, lolly sticks, toothpicks etc. small cars, boats, plastic animals etc

Why not make some homemade play-dough with your child?

Making play-dough with your child, measuring, pouring, mixing etc teaches your child about different concepts such as wet/dry, full/empty, hot/cold, solids/liquids etc as they observe the changing state of materials in a hands-on way. You can encourage language and problem solving whilst asking questions e.g. what will happen (prediction) next? Following a recipe and instructions, counting out cups, stirring and mixing and just being able to spend time on a collaborative project with an adult are all meaningful and important experiences!

Play-dough Recipes

Old Faithful Playbox Recipe


1 generous mug of plain flour

1 mug of cooking salt

1 tablespoon cooking oil

1 teaspoon cream of tartar (generous)

1 mug of water

Sensory Experience – colour/sparkle/scent etc


Put all the dry ingredients into a pan

Add the oil

Add the water slowly, stirring the mixture to a smooth paste

Add colouring and the rest of the water

Cook on a slow heat until a firm ball is formed.

Knead and cool.

No Cook Easy Dough


2 cups (not a mug) plain flour

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup salt

2 tablespoons cream of tartar

1.5 cups boiling water (adding more in increments if needed)

food colouring (optional)

few drops glycerine (optional- adds more shine!)


Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl

Add the boiling water

Stir continuously until it becomes a sticky, combined dough

Add the food colouring and glycerine (both optional)

Allow it to cool down then take it out of the bowl and knead it vigorously for a couple of minutes until all of the stickiness has gone. * This is the most important part of the process, so keep at it until it's the perfect consistency!* (if it remains a little sticky then add a touch more flour until just right)

Scents and colours: cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, food colouring, ginger, food flavouring, lemon, shampoo, essential oils, paint.

Textures: rice; couscous, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, split peas, sawdust, sand, rock salt, tiny pasta, glitter, sequins, cake sprinkles

More activities

For more interesting activities that you can try at home, take a look at Michele's Pinterest page.