How to Create Play Dough in a Bag

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Homemade play dough can be shaped according to imagination.
Homemade play dough can be shaped according to imagination. (Image: RAYES/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Homemade play dough is simple and inexpensive to make, providing you with a substance young children can use in the classroom or at home to strengthen fine motor skills and encourage imaginative play. Although the adult in charge normally makes the play dough substance, children can take part in the process when you create the play dough in a bag. Using a bag to replace the mixing bowl allows kids to do the mixing while sparing adults a mess to clean up.

Things You'll Need

  • 1-gallon plastic zip bag
  • 1/4 cup table salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 5 to 10 drops tempera paint
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tbsp. corn starch
  • 3 drops essential oil (optional)

Open a 1-gallon plastic zip bag and position it on your work surface so it remains standing up with the top open.

Pour 1/4 cup each of water and table salt into the plastic zip bag. Add 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil and five to 10 drops of tempera paint, depending on how intense you want the color of the play dough to be.

Table salt is a common ingredient in many play dough recipes.
Table salt is a common ingredient in many play dough recipes. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Add 3/4 cup flour and 1/2 tbsp. corn starch to the liquid in the bag. If you want to add a fragrance to your play dough for an additional sensory factor, place a few drops of fragrant essential oil in the bag along with the flour and corn starch.

Scented play dough adds a new learning opportunity to this homemade manipulative.
Scented play dough adds a new learning opportunity to this homemade manipulative. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Zip the plastic bag closed, making sure to pause before you close the last inch to gently squeeze trapped air out of the bag.

Squeeze the plastic zip bag repeatedly to mix the ingredients and form play dough. Turn the bag over while squeezing and kneading until the mixture becomes a thick substance that resembles bread dough. Children can help out with this part of the process.

Remove the play dough from the bag for use. Store it in a clean plastic zip bag between uses.

Tips & Warnings

  • Substitute 1/2 cup dried oats or dry coffee grounds for 1/2 cup of the flour to make a different texture of play dough.
  • Mix in 1/4 tsp. of a fragrant spice such as cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves to make scented play dough.

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