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Lockdown day 3 – Sam’s tried and tested playdough

Let’s get creative today and get those little fingers working! Let the children make the dough with you – this is a perfect opportunity to practice some literacy and maths skills too.


  • 1 cup of flour
  • 0.5 cup of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 drops of food colouring
  • 3 drops of vanilla essence (optional)


1. Prepare your workspace. Ask the child to collect all the necessary utensils and measuring cups/spoons.

2. Wash your hands! 🙂

3. Place the pan that you will be cooking the playdough in on the table in front of the child.

3. Tell the child that we need to start with ONE cup of flour. Invite the child to carefully spoon the flour from the flour container into the cup measure with a spoon. Demonstrate how to level the cup measure with the back of a knife or spatula. Ask the child to carefully pour the ONE cup of flour into the pan. (Keep using the language – this is building Maths skills!).

4. Now advise the child that we need HALF a cup of salt. You will need to gauge your child’s level of understanding here. Basically, half means that TWO of these HALF cups are the same as ONE cup. Ask the child to carefully measure this out (as above) and to add this to the flour.

5. Invite the child to measure out TWO teaspoons of cream of tartar. Encourage the child to count as s/he is adding these to the flour and salt mixture.

6. Ask the child to carefully stir these ingredients together. You could again ask the child to stir FIVE times in a CLOCKWISE and FIVE times in an ANTI-CLOCKWISE direction. Count each time.

7. Now we need ONE TABLESPOON of oil. You may wish to decant some oil into a smaller container as children may find it difficult to manage pouring from an oil bottle into a spoon. This is added to the mixture and stirred in. Keep the counting going! You can try this in sets of five.

8. Ask the child to carefully fill ONE cup with water and gently pour this into the mixture. Keep stirring and counting as above until the ingredients are properly mixed. Only assist if you are asked by the child to do so!

9. If you have a small pipette, ask the child to place this carefully into the opening of the food colouring bottle to suck up a little of the liquid. Drop TWO drops of food colouring onto the dough. If you do not have a pipette, then it may be wise that you(the adult) controls the pouring of the food colouring into the mixture.

10. Repeat the above with the vanilla essence (if desired).

11. The pan will now need to be transferred to the stove over a low heat. If possible, allow the child to stand on a steady surface. Alternatively, you will need to take over and perch the child somewhere close to observe. Keep stirring constantly until the mixture forms a soft, elastic lump.

12. Remove the dough from the pan and place it into a shallow bowl, or onto a cutting board. Invite the child to help you to knead the dough until it is pliable. NB: Please check the temperature of the dough before allowing the child to touch it.

13. Place the dough aside to ‘rest’ and invite the child to assist you in cleaning up the workspace. Ask the child to return all the ingredients back to where they belong. The cups and spoon measures as well as the pan need to be washed, dried and packed away.

14. Thank the child for making playdough with you and invite her/him to enjoy being creative! 🙂


It is important that children are involved in the full cycle of the activity.

Consider what the child will learn whilst doing the activity:

  • Gross and fine motor movements are being strengthened.
  • There is an order to all of the sequences that is allowing the child to learn to think in a sequential and logical manner.
  • Concentration skills are being developed as the child engages both mind and body in unison.
  • The development of this skill set moves the child towards independence.
  • Language skills are being developed through the use of mathematical terms and communication skills with the adult.
  • Mathematical skills are being developed as the child counts and is introduced to wholes and halves.
  • Scientific skills are introduced in mixing solid and liquid states.
  • Problem solving skills are being developed.
  • Creativity is fostered.
  • Social skills are being strengthened in the child feeling able to be a useful member of the household!

And here you thought you were just making playdough to keep the child quiet for a bit! 🙂