Valentines for kids - Homemade Playdough (without cream of tartar)

This is 'Valentines Day' week and all the kids (rather their parents) must have put together the valentines to hand out to their classmates. Last year was the first time we were doing Valentines since my daughter started preschool. I always like to give homemade stuff whenever I can. Last year we gave pretzel hearts, which I might have to write about in a different post.

This year, we decided on play-dough. My daughter is a big fan of play-dough like most kids her age. I was thinking of making a homemade version ever since I saw about it somewhere on the internet. I finally got down to actually making it after just thinking about making the play-dough for months :)

I looked at several play-dough recipes and almost all used cream of tartar. I did try to find it at the grocery store. Maybe I wasn't looking hard enough because I could not find it. So I had to look for recipes without cream of tartar. I read somewhere that cream of tartar is an acidic substance which is the residue from wine making. It is basically used in play-dough as sort of a preservative. Vinegar would work as a substitute for cream of tartar if used in thrice the quantity.

This dough is really better than the store bought doughs that we have used before. It is very flexible and does not dry out fast. It lacks some sturdiness of the less flexible doughs. But it was sturdy enough to make this doll which my husband and daughter fought over to make :)
homemade playdough
The daughter also loved using cookie cutters on the dough. I gave her my mini christmas cookie cutters.

Homemade Play-dough
adapted from The Daily Smash

I made the playdough with 5 cups flour but I had to cook it in 2 batches because stirring that amount of dough is very difficult. So I am halving the recipe here. It still makes a lot of play-dough. It has been a week since I made the play-dough and it is still as good as day one.
The changes I made to the original recipe was that I added vanilla and butter flavoring for a nice smelling play dough. I had them lying around in my cake decorating kit. The other was in the method. I will add a few more details which helped me during the making of the play dough.

2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cup salt
4 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
5 tablespoons oil
1/2 tbsp vanilla and/or butter flavoring
  • Mix all the ingredients together (starting with the wet ingredients, adding the flour at the end) along with a few drops of food coloring of your choice. I used yellow and red gel food colors. I was going for red playdough and I used all that I had (half bottle) and still ended up with kind of flesh colored play-dough. Red is notoriously difficult to achieve with food coloring. I read that using a little yellow will make it easier but then I ran out of red color to really test this theory.
  • Add all the flour even if you think no more can be accommodated. Knead the flour in if you have to.
  • Turn the heat on and cook the dough on low heat. The dough will start to pull away from the pan. I kept the heat between 3 and 1 on the stove with a range of 0-10. Higher heat will cause dough clumps. 
  • Add glitter and keep stirring the dough.
  • Cook the dough till it is no longer sticky. Determining this is a little difficult for the first time. The dough might not feel sticky when pinching between two fingers. I took it off the heat twice and tried to knead it but both times the dough felt a bit sticky while kneading so I cooked it a bit more.
  • Take the cooked dough off the heat and knead it till it gets elastic and smooth.

To package the play-dough to give out as Valentines for the daughter's classmates, I used Valentine colored zip top treat bags from Michaels.

I used my 1/3 cup measure to scoop out the dough and then flattened it into a circle. I cut out a heart template from a piece of paper and used it to cut the circle into a heart shape. I put that heart shaped play-dough in the treat bag and zipped it close.
I then cut out some hearts and rectangles from pink construction paper to write labels on. I stuck the labls on the bags with pieces of tape folded on itself to create a double sided tape.


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