Play Dough: Bugs and Reptiles

Play dough is fast becoming my favorite open-ended project. Students will walk straight up to a play dough table and need no direction or guidance to get started.

I set out an array of tools:

  • rolling pins – some texture some flat
  • play dough scissors
  • knives

Along with fun objects to create texture or make impressions or use for make-believe:

  • mardi gras beads
  • glass stones
  • pipe cleaners
  • straws
  • plastic centipedes
  • lizards
  • frogs
  • turtles

With the fun variety of tools and objects children quickly engaged creating sculptures, scenes, exploring textures, modeling, and exercising their problem solving skills.
When parents touch my play dough they instantly ask if I made it. After many failure attempts at making playdough and buying store bought a few times I finally landed on the best recipe ever and have learned how to make successful batch after batch. This recipe lasts for at least six months if stored in an air tight container.
Maryanne Kohl’s recipe (I use twice this recipe for my classroom of 6-8 kids)
2.5 cups water
1 1/4 c. salt
1 1/2 tbsp. cream of tartar
5 tbsp. vegetable oil
2.5 cups flour
Food coloring or liquid watercolors.

  • mix first three ingredients together in pot and cook for a while on medium
    when warm add vegetable oil (salt won’t be completely dissolved)
    after a few more minutes add flour slowly as you stir
  • dough is finished when it pulls away from the walls of pot and is no longer sticky to the touch
  • let cool and kneed
  • you can either add the color during the first step or kneed into the dough ball and make several colors out of one batch.

Tools are a big part of Play dough. Half of the supplies I put out are tools and often the tools get used as or the objects as tools.
I love how the students below incorporated tools into their art.

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