Making your own play dough is an easy and great way to play indoors together. It’s even better when it’s natural with ingredients safe enough to eat!* Did you know that you can make a rainbow of colors WITHOUT using artificial food dyes?!
This is our favorite homemade play dough recipe ever. It is smooth, stays soft, therapeutic, and so quick to make. Chances are, you could go out to your kitchen and make this right now. You can even just do the main ingredients without the color, which I call Snow Dough. I love using natural “dyes” from foods instead of artificial colors (like I did for these naturally-colored Easter eggs or bath paints of all colors). So what gives this lucky dough a green color?
Kale! I juiced it right in!
In lieu of kale, spinach or asparagus may also work. I haven’t tried it for play dough, but they have made great natural dyes for Easter Eggs and icings for me in the past. The next best option for natural colorants would be buying some already made similarly, with no synthetic colors (I like this brand).
I’d bet that most of us have those regular food colors in our pantry which would work in this recipe too, of course. I hesitate to use them since artificial colors (like Red 40) are already used so much in our diet, from beverages to candies to toothpastes! Food dyes are additive chemicals that enhance appearance of products. Although no study to date has been found to cause ADHD, there are mixed results that associate the two. Many studies suggest that synthetic food colors do not cause ADHD, however, can likely worsen behavior and in irritability, restlessness, and sleep disturbances.
I’m no scientist, but my gut just gives me bad vibes about anything artificially made. I also simply think it is fun to make our own ‘everything’ at home…and easier than we think! When I realized I could use carrot juice to make orange icing for my son’s first birthday cake, I was sold. We eat plenty of junk food around here and are no where near perfectly “clean”, but figure it can’t hurt to reduce questionable ingredients when possible.
Natural Play Dough Recipe
You Will Need:
- 1 cup flour**
- 2 tsp. cream of tartar (find it in the spice section)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melt to liquid (where I buy it – olive oil will work as well)
- 1/3 cup salt
- 1 cup water
- 7ish individual stalks of green kale (depends on size; more = extra color), washed
- Juicing machine* (or boiling method instead below) – I use and love this juicer
- OPTIONAL: a few drops of essential oil (I used 3 drops of Gentle Baby and think it is perfectly calming and blends well with the kale – I use and love these essential oils)
How to Make:
- Bring water and salt to a boil.
- Meanwhile, combine flour, cream of tartar, and coconut oil in a large mixing bowl. Add boiling salt water to dry mixture.
- Add the juice of kale stalks into the mixture and combine together well with a spoon, hands, or dough hook on mixer, kneading as necessary. You can use flour on your hands to mix it around more
*Using a juicing machine is nice because you can just keep adding kale juice right into the mixing bowl until you’re satisfied with the color. Don’t have a juicer? Just boil the kale in with the boiling water during Step One in this recipe for at least 10 minutes. You will still get the green color out by boiling it, although you may need more water (if a lot boils off) or more kale (for a deeper color).
Gentle Baby Essential Oil is totally safe for wee ones and pregnant/nursing mamas to touch. It is a soft, fragrant combination of essential oils designed specifically for mothers and babies. It helps calm emotions during pregnancy and is useful for quieting troubled little ones. It is also soothing to tender skin. Although the main ingredients in this dough are technically all edible, I do not encourage eating it, especially with essential oils (I’m being cautious). You could try a mint or vanilla extract instead if you think a child may put it in their mouth or none at all, but still…it is best to encourage treating it as science rather than food. 🙂
We make the rainbow around here with creative, natural colors. Be sure to subscribe over on the right so you don’t miss a post!