This play dough will leave a light residue on whatever surface you play with it on, so I buy vinyl placemats (you can find them for around $1 at Walmart or I've seen them at the dollar store) OR you could let your child color up a couple of sheets of cardstock and then have it laminated for a play mat. We gather up a variety of "tools" to use with our play dough... cookie cutters, plastic knives, forks and spoons, scoops from baby formula, juice concentrate lids, etc.
When you're finished playing, if you don't want to dry and keep your creations, put the dough in a zip lock bag, or an airtight container. Most people say to store it in the fridge, but I just keep ours in the cupboard and it lasts for several months if kept tightly sealed.
Homemade Play Dough
1 C. flour
1/2 C. salt
2 tsp. Cream of Tartar
1 C. water
1 T. oil
Combine dry ingredients in medium sized saucepan and stir. Add oil & water and stir.
This is where you decide if you want the whole batch the same color or not. If you DO - add several drops of food coloring (or a packet of unsweetened Kool Aid) now.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly (I really prefer using a wooden spoon) until it forms into a ball. You want the "wet" look to disappear - sometimes I just turn the ball over and squish it out on the bottom of the pan a few times to be sure it's cooked through. Dump out onto the counter to cool slightly. (it will be lumpy) Knead 10 times or more until your dough is smooth.
If you didn't add color earlier and want a few different colors, divide into balls... flatten them out a little and drop a few drops of food coloring on each one. Fold the dough over and over until the food coloring starts to mix in. Knead each ball until each ball is smooth and the color is mixed in well.
Today, for the first time, we tried the Kool-Aid packets for our color. They work GREAT in a full batch and provide very vivid colors. Kool-aid (or other unsweetened drink mix) also makes the dough smell delicious. (which might lead to younger children tasting it - it won't hurt them, but I don't recommend eating it in large amounts lol) We're still deciding if we like the scents though - they make us hungry while we play. LOL! (As an aside, I figured that since I bought my Kool-Aid at 10/$1, they cost was as cheap as food coloring. Wylers or store brand drink mix would work just as well since all you need is the color)
The kids helped measure, stir and knead. My 8 year old could stir the whole time, my 6 year old got tired as the dough thickened. My 3 year old granddaughter helped by watching. :)
We learned about how flour and water thicken as they heat, we learned that Cream of Tartar comes from the residue left from grapes when making wine(most of the time), and that it is a stabelizer. I've done this clay without Cream of Tartar, but it goes sticky when stored. We also learned the definition of "vivid". Cooking, science, vocabulary... bonding... A great Kids in the Kitchen activity!
Here are my daughters, granddaughter and my youngest son all showing off their play dough...