Kids Playdough Ideas for Everyday Creativity

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Playdough for Everyday Creativity with KidsWe’re always trying out new playdough ideas. In fact, playdough is one of our go-to materials and activities for everyday creative play. We keep a kitchen drawer stocked with playdough, playdough tools, and playdough “decorations” (toothpicks, beads, googly eyes, feathers). It’s easily accessible and frequently brought out, either by the kids when they want to make playdough cakes to sell in their living room store or by me when I see that they might need a diversion or easy activity.

In fact, I’d say playdough is one of the top three regular creative outlets in our home (the other two being the big chalkboard and simple paper and markers/crayons/scissors). Sure, we paint quite a bit and we’re always trying some new art or craft idea. But for everyday, endlessly enjoyable and changeable creative fun, playdough is hard to beat.

Here are several recent kids playdough ideas from our kitchen table:

Playdough for Everyday Creativity with Kids

We made a brand new batch of playdough the other day when Maia had a friend over. We used the no-cook playdough recipe this time so the kids could be more involved in making the playdough. They each mixed up their own bowl full of ingredients, chose their colors (red, blue, and indigo), and kneaded their dough.

Once the playdough was ready, they eyed each others colors and decided to share.

Playdough for Everyday Creativity with Kids

Daphne made her usual chocolate chip cookies from her playdough, adding little playdough chocolate chips to cookie after cookie after cookie.

Playdough for Everyday Creativity with Kids

Taytum spelled her name in the playdough.

Playdough for Everyday Creativity with Kids

And Maia and Taytum took turns inspiring each other with playdough volcanoes and playdough snowmen people (they each made both).

Playdough for Everyday Creativity with Kids

The next day, Maia and Daphne made playdough birthday cakes…

Playdough for Everyday Creativity with Kids

…and playdough bear cakes decorated with dyed pasta beads.

And you’ll notice that those three colors we started out with have now been thoroughly mixed together in the space of a day. This is why I usually make playdough in one big big batch of a single color. At least this time the colors were predominantly blue.

I’ve been known to make three colors at a time (red, yellow, and blue) and even six colors at a time. Every time (despite moderate efforts to keep the colors separate) the whole thing becomes a muddy mess after a few days. The kids don’t seem to notice or mind, though, and just keep on creating with the playdough. Which of course reinforces the notion that we’re better off sticking to one color at a time.

How about you? What are your kids favorite playdough ideas?

Oh, and just curious… Are you able to keep playdough colors separate? Or do you bother?

30+ more playdough, clay, and other modeling dough ideas.

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  1. says

    My kids LOVE playdoh, and we have a really neat playdoh tool set from Melissa & Doug (their older version) that they play with, at least every other day, when playdoh is accessible. (We trade off our art supplies to keep it fresh and tidy!)
    I try to control the colors but then I think, oh well! they don’t care, so I just let it go. My big stink is more with picking up all the pieces that land on the floor and inevitably are taken around the house on little feet :)
    I love the idea of noodles, etc. in playdoh. I’ve never thought of that before and my kids would definitely love that new idea! Good thing we’re going to the grocery store today!
    Sarah M

  2. Jennifer says

    When you decide to retire a batch of playdough and do you have any last special activity or experiment that you do with the dough before disposing of it?
    Also, do you try to remove the pasta before storing the dough? I’ve intermixed pasta before and had some toruble extracting it… but maybe it doesn’t matter if you won’t be keeping the dough for long.

  3. Dena says

    Hi Jean,
    I used to try to not mix the colors but I now try to be more relaxed in general about the art we do (like the fact that she still mixes paint all together!)
    I really liked the pasta you used for coloring, going to try that. Also, where did you get your molds.
    Naomi’s favorite thing to do inside is draw with her markers and build with her blocks along with any craft I come up with.

  4. Erica says

    We love play dough around here too — My kids like to mix it. I try to give them colors that mix nicely since they don’t like it when it is all brown and mucky, but I figure it is better to let them explore and see what happens than to try to micromanage their play to save the colors :) I have some chocolate candy molds that are the best for molding it. Other than that, we love paper and markers/crayons, dot markers, and, right now, pipe cleaners. I have pipe cleaner people, rockets, puppies, and all sorts of “sculptures” wandering around my house.

  5. says

    We usually do a couple of colors but I don’t try to keep it separate — losing battle at our house! We need to make some play dough, we haven’t had any on hand lately but it used to be may daily saving grace.

  6. says

    That’s a good idea! Offering color options but limiting them to those that mix well. You’ve mentioned that about the chocolate candy molds before — I’m going to have to give it a try. My kids use little baking dishes and silicone muffin liners as molds, but the candy molds sound extra fun.

  7. says

    We might have the same Melissa & Doug playdough tool set. Ours is a few years old and we love it.
    Try spaghetti noodles in the playdough — so fun!

  8. says

    When do we retire a batch of playdough? Oh, when it has been forgotten/left out one too many times. Or when it has too many mix ins that we don’t want to pick out. Or it’s been turned into too many gifts and cakes and such that couldn’t possibly be mixed back in with the main batch…
    and yes, remove the pasta before storing the dough! It’s not fun picking it out later if you forget (i know from experience…)

  9. says

    Block building is a big favorite here, too, right now. They go through phases with it — they’ll build a lot for a week or two then ignore the blocks for a month or two.
    The molds? Hmmm. I think I picked up some at goodwill and maybe some at the kitchen supply store. Sorry I can’t be more specific!

  10. Alyssa says

    Hi Jean!
    When I made playdoh for a bunch of JK/SK school age children, I added a few tablespoons of cinnamon to the batch. Everyone (teachers and children alike) approved of the choice. When my cinnamon batch ran out, I added some tablespoons of cocoa powder to the mix. It didn’t work out quite as nicely.
    I don’t have children of my own, but I’m a registered early childhood educator. Before school went out, the school age kids always requested the following things:
    1. Wal Mart’s fancier glass/plastic beads and stretchy string. No pony beads around here. They were a little more than the normal plastic beads, but not by much. They can make jewellery their moms might actually wear. This was always a favourite of my older girls. Pony beads were always requested for beady animals. There are patterns here:
    2. Melting beads (aka Melty Beads, Perler Beads) are wonderful for ages 6-12. Any younger, and they complain that it’s too hard to fill in all the spaces.
    3. Goop — HUGE hit with boys, especially. I got requested to make this one daily.
    4. Big rolls of poster paper and paint.

  11. Arlene says

    Hi there,
    It’s many years now since I last used Playdoh with my own children, but have just bought some to try with my father. He’s 91 and has vascular dementia and I thought it might be fun for both of us. When the days are nice I take him out a couple of times each week from the care home where he lives near my sister, but when the days are wet and gloomy it’s difficult to find activities that will stimulate and hold his interest. Not sure how it will go, but at least I shall have fun trying! :)