How to Make Air Hardening Clay for Kids

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Air-hardening clay can be made from common household ingredients.
Air-hardening clay can be made from common household ingredients. (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

There's no need to purchase clay or modeling dough for your kids to play with. You can make your own air-hardening clay out of common household items. This homemade, kid-friendly clay is nontoxic and easy to work with. The recipe is simple enough that the kids can even help make the clay before playing with it. Air-drying clay, when moist, is easy to work with and mold into shapes. Once you or the kids have created a masterpiece, the creation can be left on the table to dry and harden on its own. There's no need for baking. This clay can even be used to make holiday ornaments.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • Large bowl
  • 1 cup hot tap water
  • Food coloring
  • Large spoon
  • Wax paper
  • Rolling pin
  • Toothpick

Pour the flour and salt into a large bowl. Stir them together with your hands or a spoon.

Place a drop or two of your favorite food coloring shade into the cup of hot water. Stir gently with a spoon.

Pour the hot water into the flour and salt mixture a little at a time, stirring with a large spoon. Once all the water is in the bowl and you've stirred the mixture, knead the ingredients with your hands until it reaches a dough-like consistency throughout and the color has blended into the dough. Add another drop or two of food coloring to make the dough color more prominent, if desired.

Place a sheet of wax paper on the table. Grab a hunk of dough and flatten it onto the wax paper. Roll it with a rolling pin to create flat shapes. Use a cookie cutter to cut specific shapes for ornaments or homemade decor. Poke a hole near the top of cutout ornaments to hang a string later. Use a toothpick to poke a hole.

Roll the dough around and model it with your hands to create other shapes, such as beads or tiny animals. Let the clay dry on the wax paper. It may take several days to dry depending on the thickness of your creations.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you prefer to keep the clay moist so it can be played with another day, keep it in an airtight container or resealable bag.
  • Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil, if desired, for a smoother dough.
  • This clay can be baked in a low-temperature oven with adult supervision for quicker drying time.
  • Dried clay can be painted with tempera or craft acrylics.

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