Today I’m sharing our first quarantine STEAM activity we did 3 weeks ago (which my kids are still playing with…) – making homemade play-dough for STEAM play! You can view my original Instagram post here. This recipe, which I got from @creativelydunn is a winner! This play-dough is so soft and a perfect consistency. She’s a mom and preschool teacher, so of course she didn’t disappoint!

Here’s how to make the play-dough:


  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 drops food coloring
  • Optional: essential oil, glitter


I had my kids help me with all the steps until I turned on the heat (steps 6-8).

  1. Pour water into a small bowl and mix in food coloring
  2. Mix in the cooking oil
  3. Transfer the liquid mixture to a saucepan
Step 1
Step 2
Step 3

4. Add the flour, cream of tartar, and salt; mix well
5. Cook over low heat until the dough starts to come together and dry out a bit
6. Once it can be formed into a ball remove it from the heat and let cool

Step 4
Step 5
Step 6

7. Optional: add ~5 drops essential, and/or glitter to jazz up your play dough
8. Knead the dough for 5 minutes before giving to your kids to play with
9. Let kids play with the play-dough using their imaginations, and you can also lead focused play by using the play-dough for math practice or to form letters, shapes, etc.
10. Store play-dough in a ziplock bag to keep it from drying out

Step 7 and 8
Step 9
Step 10


  • Science: Change of state from liquid to solid when the play-dough is cooked on the stove
  • Art: Colors when you add food coloring the the play-dough, imaginative play
  • Math: Measurements & fractions (when adding ingredients), opportunity for counting and addition/subtraction practice during play
  • How to follow directions & attention to detail, creative independent thinking during play time

I was so excited to see my son begin rolling his play-dough into small balls, then doing math with them! He counted the balls, then grouped them, and I lead him in doing more than and less than comparisons. There are endless ways you can use play-dough for STEAM learning.

But it is also perfect to just let your kids play and use their imaginations! My son created a cake monster then wanted to write about it! He’s doing homeschool on his own without me even having to encourage it. Hopefully this enthusiasm continues for the next few weeks…

So what are you waiting for?! Go make some play-dough with your kids! It will provide many hours of independent play: think free time for Mama! 🙂


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