Play-Dough (That Smells Good)

This article, entitled Play-Dough comes from Alison at

Let me start this by saying I have never been a fan of Play-Doh. Never. Not even as a kid. It’s messy and it has this funny…smell.

When I became a mom I knew that playing with Play-Doh was this right of passage in childhood, something you just did. Well, we didn’t. I watched my Play-Doh deprived kids get all excited at playdates and preschool as the colorful dough would be pulled out. Sure I had a little guilt, but just a little.

Last week Henry and I went over to a friend’s house for a morning to play. After about an hour the kids were getting restless, needing something different to do, so my friend asks if they would like to play with some play dough. Henry of course jumped at the opportunity. I just looked at her and said, “Wow, you are a great mom, I don’t do Play-Doh.” I then went on to tell her my list of reasons why I am not a fan. Good friend that she is, she just laughed as she continued to pull out containers of the brightly colored dough.

After a few minutes of watching the kids play I walked over to see what Henry had created. Leaning over to see all he’d made I caught a whiff of something that spelled like orange Kool-aid. I asked Henry if he smelled it and he said, “Yea Mom, it’s the play dough, isn’t that cool!?” Intrigued, I asked my friend (super mama and former preschool teacher) if there was something to this. She then told me about this great homemade play dough recipe that adds Kool-aid powder making it not only smell good, but adding the doughs bright color as well.


Cautiously I asked for the recipe, thinking in the back of my mind that if we had another snow day (and I was desperate) we might try it. Well, it turns out it wasn’t a snow day, but a very cold day off from school (with nothing to do) that we ended up using the recipe.

And you know what? It was so easy…and the boys loved it. For a whole 45 minutes they sat around our kitchen table and played (and got along) and created. It wasn’t all that messy and everyone loved the fruity Kool-Aid smell on their hands. Even Ben commented how much better it was “than the regular stuff”.

Each boy chose a color/flavor that they wanted to make. We had orange, cherry and grape.

* special note: My Henry’s colorful arms and hands are not due to the play-dough, but another “art project’ he decided to try on his own earlier in the day (that’s my boy…) *

Play Dough Recipe

1 cup flour

1 cup salt

1 cup warm water (add food coloring here if you’d like)

1 Tablespoon Cream of Tarter

1 Tablespoon Baby Oil or Vegetable Oil

In a small sauce pan, combine the flour, salt, tarter and (if using) Kool-Aid powder packet. Add the water and oil and mix well til all lumps are gone. Over medium to medium high heat begin to cook the mixture, stirring constantly. It will begin to stick together. Continue to mix it over the heat until it gets a shine on the outside (a smoother, outer texture). Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Then knead the play dough for 3-5 minutes. If it feels to sticky add a little extra flour while kneading. Store in an air-tight container.

All our rarely used play dough tools got a good work out…

I had bought all the ingredients to have them on hand. It might be the best $5.68 I ever spent on an activity. This makes good amounts of dough for each batch, enough that each boy had more than enough to play with.

Have I been converted to a play-dough fan? I’m not sure I’d go as far to say that……but I definitely won’t cringe the next time my boys ask to play with it.


To read more from Alison, visit

About the Author...
Alison Bickel
Whether it’s in the garden, the kitchen or tagging along on my boys’ latest adventure I like to look for the simple beauty in everyday from behind my lens.

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