What is a childhood without some easy homemade playdough? It’s incredible for imagination, motor skills, and of course, fun! I believe it’s the foundation of every young blooming mind and the perfect activity for a Friday afternoon.
I’m here to give you a recipe for homemade playdough ideas with shaving cream (trust me on this one!). I’ll include the incredible benefits of dough, how to make it more fun, and details on what you need to start. It’s homemade no-cook playdough guaranteed to be a treat.
RELATED: Did you know that playdough can also Improve Pencil Grip? Just one more reason to play.
Homemade Playdough Supplies
- Cornstarch, 2 cups – A white powdery substance found in most stores, cornstarch turns the cream into a malleable texture. It creates the resistance you need to mold the dough.
- Food coloring – Choose any color you like. Go mad and make every color of the rainbow!
- Shaving cream, 1 cup – Provides moisture and gives the dough a soft, pleasant feel. Trust me on this one!
Loose Parts Supplies
Even kids get bored, but the possibilities are endless when you add a few basic homemade playdough accessories. I’m not talking about fancy tools but using ‘loose parts.’
British architect Simon Nicholson originally coined loose parts to describe open-ended materials that can be used and manipulated differently. (Nicholson 1971).
“The process of unintellectual learning occurs through natural interaction with real things in the child’s environment. Loose parts are real things, ordinary things, ordinary objects, that when placed intentionally in infants’ and toddlers’ environment, support their cognitive growth through exciting discoveries” (Taken from Loose Parts 2, Inspiring Play with Infants and Toddlers).
Essentially, loose parts mean anything you’ve got lying around the house without batteries (like pasta and buttons).
You have to push, pull, and play with them physically – just like when you used to wind down a car window manually. Does anyone else remember those days? I’ve added a list of ideas to get the ball rolling.
- Buttons – I love pressing buttons into it, and your kids will too. Seeing the Playdough squish up through the buttonholes and introducing them to shapes is fun.
- Color Counting Bears – Kids love to push these into the dough and see if they can make a bear shape!
- Leaves – These make all sorts of outlines and patterns and are a lovely way to connect children to nature. It improves your little one’s concentration and fine motor skills because they must take care not to rip them.
- LEGO – A combination of pressing, making shapes, and building using playdough. What more could you ask for?
- Lids from a variety of jars – I wash and collect these, then keep them in our art cart for future play.
- Mini Erasers – Weird, but honestly? I have these lying around the house, so I thought I’d use them!
- Plastic Letters – Incredible to introduce little ones to literacy.
- Random kitchen supplies – Best place for loose parts? The kitchen! Spoons, forks, whatever, they all make great loose parts.
- Rocks – I gather these up from the garden or when we go on a nature walk.
- Stamps – Seeing your kids’ reaction the first time they use a stamp is priceless!
- Toy eggs – I had some already from our Easter activities.
- Uncooked pasta – Great to press into homemade playdough to make prints and shapes.
- Wooden beads – Your kids will find many different ways to use these beads in playdough.
Loose Parts 1: Inspiring Play in Young Children
An amazing starter book introducing loose parts.
Loose Parts 2: Inspiring Play with Infants and Toddlers
I like to use this one to find out what works best for my little ones.
Loose Parts 3: Inspiring Culturally Sustainable Environments
Did you know using loose parts helps the environment? Yes! Check out the book to learn more.
RELATED: Check out how we use loose parts in our ART CART.
How to Make Homemade Playdough
This homemade no-cook playdough is so straightforward you’ll be whipping it up in no time. It’s homemade playdough with shaving cream, which creates a smooth, silky texture.
Step 1: Start with a clean surface.
You don’t want it picking up bits before starting, so wipe down the area when you begin. Oh… also after! You don’t want playdough in your food!
Step 2: Mix the shaving cream and cornstarch.
Combine the two ingredients and mix or knead. You’ll know if it’s blended when you can roll it into a smooth ball.
Step 3: Adjust the measurements.
If your playdough is too crumbly, add more shaving foam. If it feels sticky, stir in extra cornstarch until the mixture is soft.
Step 4: Separate the mixture into equal parts or leave it as one ball.
If you are making different colors, you need to section out the homemade playdough and add the color individually. However, if you’re making one batch of the same color, you can leave it as is.
Step 5: Add the food coloring.
Select the color or colors you want (I personally love purple), then add a few drops to the mixture. The more food coloring you add, the stronger the color. Knead it in until you thoroughly combine it with the play dough.
Step 5: Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
It lasts 1-2 weeks, giving your kids hours of fun! When I’m ready, I whip up a new batch, and the fun starts all over again!
RELATED: Playdough is one of our favorite ways to increase fine motor strength.
Other Creative Playdough Ideas
Here are ways to change up your playdough from some of my favorite blogger friends!
- Dinosaur Playdough Kit (Mama Papa Bubba)
- Playdough Pizzas (The Imagination Tree)
- Unicorn Playdough Kit (Mama Papa Bubba)
The Benefits of Rethinking Your Playdough
- Engages senses – Homemade playdough is a sensory activity (play that uses sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell).
- Fine motor skills – When children roll, pinch, and squish, it enhances grip strength and hand movement control. It’s a simple way to improve fine motor skills for tying laces and writing.
- Imagination – Playdough is incredibly malleable, so kids can use their imagination to create different shapes, sizes, and worlds. When you give children additional homemade playdough tools, it can advance math and literacy.
- Challenges creativity – Loose parts will challenge creativity to think outside the box.
- No battery and no function parts – Loose parts do not have a specific function or purpose. They are objects that do not have a button to push or preprogrammed intent. They also do not use batteries. If this sounds appealing, you should check out our favorite open-ended toys for all ages.
Playdough is Incredible for Childhood Development
This homemade playdough with shaving cream is fast, easy, and amazing at enhancing fine motor skills. Add loose parts like pasta to take it to the next level, providing countless learning opportunities and plenty of fun. Just like this playdough exploration, Toddler Activities are best when they are kept simple.
RELATED: Playdough is a fantastic tool for sensory play. Find out how to introduce sensory play to your young child here.
Activities on Demand
Want great ideas without the ads? Download these 20 hands-on learning games for kids.
More Sensory Play Ideas
- Cut the Playdough
- Five Secrets that Support Sensory Play
- Importance of Sensory Play
- How to Introduce Sensory Play
- Sensory Bins for Kids
Frequently Asked Questions
I have learned there are two types of playdough parents. Those that turn away from letting the kids take the lead, and those that cringe at the idea of color mixing. Whichever team you are on, one trick is to offer one or two colors at a time. If you offer two colors, think about how those two colors look when blended. For example, red and blue make a pretty purple!
Trust that children know how to make playdough interesting and resist the 40-piece playdough cutting sets. Play dough can be open-ended and kept simple by adding crafting scraps, uncooked pasta, and a pair of child scissors.
Use a tray or under-the-bed storage bin to keep the play dough in one place as your child plays. Remind them that the playdough stays in the bin. If your child needs more than one reminder, put the play dough away and tell your child when we can try again. Be specific about the next opportunity and remember to try again reinforcing the boundary that playdough stays on the tray.
How to Make Homemade Playdough
Homemade Playdough Supplies
- 2 cups Cornstarch
- Food coloring
- 1 cup Shaving cream
Loose Parts Supplies
- Color Counting Bears
- Lids from a variety of jars
- Loose Parts: Inspiring Play in Young Children
- Loose Parts 2: Inspiring Play with Infants and Toddlers
- Loose Parts 3: Inspiring Culturally Sustainable Environments
- Mini Erasers
- Plastic Letters
- Random kitchen supplies
- Toy eggs
- Uncooked pasta
- Wooden beads
- Start with a clean surface.You don’t want it picking up bits before starting, so wipe down the area when you begin. Oh… also after! You don’t want playdough in your food!
- Mix the shaving cream and cornstarch.Combine the two ingredients and mix or knead. You’ll know if it’s blended when you can roll it into a smooth ball.
- Adjust the measurements.If your playdough is too crumbly, add more shaving foam. If it feels sticky, stir in extra cornstarch until the mixture is soft.
- Separate the mixture into equal parts or leave it as one ball.If you are making different colors, you need to section out the homemade playdough and add the color individually. However, if you’re making one batch of the same color, you can leave it as is.
- Add the food coloring.Select the color or colors you want (I personally love purple), then add a few drops to the mixture. The more food coloring you add, the stronger the color. Knead it in until you thoroughly combine it with the play dough.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge.It lasts 1-2 weeks, giving your kids hours of fun! When I’m ready, I whip up a new batch, and the fun starts all over again!