Did you know that not only can make your own gluten-free playdough but that it is simple to do, and easy to dye with a couple of tea bags? The beautiful pink playdough in the above picture was made with a raspberry tea! As usual, a homemade and natural substitute to store-bought is easily made at home.
I always liked playing with playdough as a child, but even then the smell was strange to me. I suppose it is the preservatives. So I especially liked it when my mom made homemade for me, which smelled simply like salted dough, and was soft and easy to play with.
I continue that tradition and sometimes make homemade playdough for my girls too. My oldest is still young enough to enjoy it (she’s almost 6), while my youngest (at almost 2) is just getting to the age of really being able to participate fully in playdough fun. All to say, my girls really enjoyed their afternoon of playdough.
Whether you are a homeschool mother, a childcare provider, nanny, or have young children at home with the bigger kids at school, it is nice to have an activity like playdough for the young ones.
As far as coloring goes, if you are looking for natural dyes, India Tree has an excellent, but expensive dye set. I used what I had on hand. I used a chlorophyll supplement for green and raspberry tea bags for pink – both a success. But I am thinking that you could use a wide variety of things to dye the dough, if you like: Turmeric for yellow, green tea for green, rooibos tea for brown etc. I’d love to hear your ideas! The important thing when using tea to dye your playdough is making a strong and dark brew.
½ cup of white rice flour
½ cup of cornstarch (I understand that arrowroot powder, or potato starch can also be used)
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
½ cup of salt
2 teaspoons of oil
1 cup of water
1. In a small pot, combine the dry ingredients and give it a whisk. Add the water and oil, and whisk until smooth.
2. Put over low heat on the stove, and stir with a wooden spoon. It will slowly thicken and start pulling away from the sides of the pot. You know it’s done when you lift a large spoonful of the playdough and it doesn’t drip at all, but remains a firm ball. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
3. Once cool enough to touch, you can knead in more starch or flour to firm it up, if necessary.
Keep well wrapped, and it will keep indefinitely.
Pink: Add three bags of raspberry tea to 1 cup of hot water. Brew for ten minutes. Use in place of the water in the recipe.
Green: We used 30 drops of chlorophyll concentrate, kneaded into the finished and cooled playdough.
For other color ideas, see above.
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Leanna @ Alldonemonkey
Do you think these could work for dying dry pasta as well?
You mean use tea to dye homemade noodles? I bet it would! In fact, that is a great idea. 🙂 The only thing is figuring out how not to flavor the noodles too much.
our pasta book recommends colored vegetable juices to color pasta. spinach, beet, or carrot juice especially in place of water. then you don’t have to worry about the flavors.
Good idea. I believe that the store-bought colored ones are also dyed with vegetable juices…..though it does change the flavor a little.
Perfect timing! I was just thinking I need to try to make this.
That is really amazing. I dont have kids yet, but when I do, this sounds like a great activity to create and play with. How long does it last? How do you store it? or is it a one time thing, and then you throw it out?
It is preserved with all of the salt in the recipe, so it will last as long as you can keep it moist. 🙂
Lavender tea would probably work for purple.
Maybe this is a dumb question, but…but kind of oil do you use? These recipes always seem to call for vegetable oil, and we never have that stuff in the house.
We used olive oil because that is what we had on hand. 🙂
OK. I just tried using potato starch and would not recommend it. While it did make a dough, it was very rubbery to the point of not being able to mix the color in. It just has a marbled look to it. When you stretch it, it becomes sticky.
Also, I would not recommend the India Tree colors. They taste horrible and change the consistency of everything I have tried them in. The red usually comes out a blood-rust color and the blue usually a sickening grey color.
Thanks, Amanda, for letting us know about the potato starch! So surprising since other bloggers said it worked for them. And the pictures of people’s playdough done with India tree colors are beautiful! Again, surprising!
Thank you so much for the recipe!! I work with special needs people & we do make playdough. Since having to go GF, I’ve been staying away from Playdough (even homemade). I agree that the smell is kind of nasty. I can’t wait to make this!! Thanks again!
When you say “keep well wrapped” do you mean to put in a bag and get as much air out as possible or just put in an airtight container? I always remember my wheat flour playdo going moldy as a kid… thanks!
I am a teacher in New Zealand. For us we are mindful of not using food as a plaything as it is culturally insensitive to some people for two reasons, one it is wasteful of food that could feed people, and many in our communities have hidden issues of poverty. this is why the practice of using insant pudding as a paint was removed from early childhood play some years back. the second issue is food is tapu/sacred for many of our indigenous people and to use food for play is disrespectful of local cultural beliefs. There are those who question what happens to old playdough from a sustainablility perspective also?
Playdough is a wonderful medium that most children grow up with and provides many varied opportunites for leanring and developemnt from sensory to maths to spatial to language to social learning.
I add these comments to your page so others may be thoughtful in how they make their resources and what use it is put to.
There are many recipes online for non food containing playdoughs such as sawdust dough, paper clay etc. All have pros and cons for the environment and our children.
may you find this information gives you something to chew over in your search to provide what is best for the children you love and care for.
I just made this play dough with arrowroot flour in place of cornstarch. It was very easy! It seemed sticky — so on our first batch we kneaded in more of the flours, but it just seemed stickier. On subsequent batches, I just spread it out a little and let it cool without messing with it much and it seems a lot less sticky.
One other note, I put a heaping tablespoon of saffron in a cup of boiling water and it made a gorgeous bright yellow!
Thanks for the recipe! Just made some tonight. I tried using various teas but they all ended up coming out the same colour. Was thinking I might try some natural juices next time instead.
Oh my!!! Just made this and it is beautiful!!!! Thanks you so much!!!
Just made it again and used spirulina in hot water and it turned a wonderfully dark shamrock green!! Beautiful and so easy to make! Love it! My boys are having a great time! Thanks again!
We used potato starch and it worked beautifully! I’m traumatized by using other recipes where it marbled and actually dread making more gf playdough. This recipe did the trick though and was a breeze! Thank you!
I used this recipe a few days ago and it came out great! At first it was really gooey, then i added more corn starch and it felt just like play dough!!! But then we actually played with it and it kept crumbling. Any idea how to get it not to crumble? Do I have to start over or can I kneed in a drop or two of oil? Any help would be great. My kindergartener has celiac and I am now in charge of making the whole class room GF play dough.