There are many good reasons to make your own play-dough. Kids really enjoy making things in the kitchen, especially when they get to put their hands in and mix it all up. It can be less expensive than buying it from the store. There is also an educational element for making play-dough. Measuring, following directions, and kitchen safety can all be taught while the kids think they’re simply playing. Another lesson that can be taught while making playdough is that often there is more than one way to accomplish something, and in the case of play dough, it is how to color it.
Coloring play dough is as easy as making it, and choosing a method with which to color it can be a fun experiment. There are several types of coloring that can be used to create the primary colors of yellow, red and blue in the play dough.
- Food coloring. This is the most common method. Food coloring can be bought in most grocery stores in the baking isle, usually in packs with red, blue, yellow and green dropper bottles. A couple of drops are enough to turn the play dough to the desired color. For more intense colors, add another drop or two.
- Powdered tempera paint. This powder can be found in craft and art stores. It is a more expensive option than food coloring, but you will then have it on hand to mix paint for other craft projects with the kids. If you buy one each of yellow, red and blue, you have the ability to mix many colors. The amount of powder used depends upon the intensity of the color desired. Start out with a small amount and add more if needed.
- Juices from vegetables and fruits. Beet, spinach, carrot, blueberries and other foods that produce an intensely colored juice can be used as a natural alternative to coloring play dough. Add the juice to the water when making the dough. Again, the amount needed depends on the color you wish to achieve.
- Frosting paste. This paste, which can be found at baking specialty stores and craft stores that have a cake isle, is another choice for coloring play dough. Like the powdered tempera paint, it is a bit more expensive than some of the other options, but it can be used for coloring cake frosting, also. It should only take a small amount to color the dough so a little goes a long way.
- Unsweetened Kool-Aid. A small packet of unsweetened Kool-Aid or similar powdered drink mix is another way to color play dough. These packets come in a large variety of colors. The added benefit of this method is that the play dough will also take on a great smell which the kids will love.
Once you have chosen your coloring method, the next step is to get cooking. Here is a basic playdough recipe.
1 cup flour
1 cup of water
Â˝ cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar (which acts as a preservative)
1 tablespoon oil
coloring agent of your choice
- Mix the first five ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the dough has formed. If using juices from food to color the dough add them during this step, also.
- For coloring methods other than fruit or vegetable juice, turn cooked dough onto wax paper, add the coloring agent and knead until the color is mixed in thoroughly. (You might want to wear gloves while kneading in the color to keep it from staining your hands. All of these coloring options have the possibility to stain your clothes, so wear an apron or old clothes while making the dough).
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
Once you’ve mastered the art of making yellow, red, and blue play dough, you’re only an experiment in color away from orange, green, or purple. Who knew making play dough could be so educational?