Playdough and More Homemade Fun


The frigid winter weather often means being stuck indoors and with a toddler, that can spell trouble for everyone involved.  These homemade play ideas will help you both beat the winter blues. 


Now that winter’s in full swing, the days gave turned overcast, cold and wet. It’s times like this, that as a stay at home mom I’m really put to the test with my toddler.  There’s no outdoor playground available for her to run around and exert some energy or the ability for us to take leisurely strolls around the neighborhood in her Red Flyer wagon.  

After a day or two of being stuck inside due to the cold, I’m usually about ready to pull my hair out and I can even tell that Emily’s about had it with the songs, books and blocks. 

I love doing arts and crafts, however, since she’s still under two a lot of the fun ideas I want to do are still off limits.  If Emily’s anything like your child, she still likes to put everything (and I mean everything) in her mouth.  It can be so very frustrating, right?  

Even though I always see the “non-toxic” and “safe” labels on most of these craft products, I still sort of wonder “what’s in this?”  Do you?  I mean, if I feel uncomfortable about putting that paint in my mouth, do I really want it in hers?  

In an effort to do fun projects with Emily and not worry about what’s really in everything, I’ve started making a lot of homemade play ideas for her. Since I make them myself and know exactly what’s going into it, I can be worry-free when she’s playing and most likely putting it in her mouth.  Less worry makes me one happy mama and Emily loves all the new things to play with, which makes her one happy toddler.  It’s a win-win situation all the way around.  

This homemade playdough recipe is one my mom used to make all the time for my sister and I when we were little.  I can still vividly remember playing with it for hours!  I love how soft and pliable it is and this recipe makes tons vs. the small amount you get when bought at the store.  It stays fresh for ages and once again, I know exactly what went into it.  I store mine in small Tupperware containers for convenience, plus Emily loves playing with the containers, which is a double win at play time!  

Since playdough might not be everyone’s cup of tea or maybe you already have tons, I’ve also included some other fun homemade play ideas I’ve found and plan to make with Emily this winter. 


3 cups All Purpose flour
1 1/2 cups salt
1 1/2 Tbs. cream of tartar
3 1/4 cups water
6 Tbs. vegetable oil
food coloring

1. In a large saucepan, stir together the flour, salt and cream of tartar.  
2. Stir in the water, vegetable oil and a few drops of food coloring to the dry ingredients  
3. Turn heat to medium and stir until there are only small lumps and mixture holds together*  Remove from heat and cool for 5-10 minutes, until able to be handled.
4. Pour play dough out onto work surface and knead it to work out any lumps.  Store in a Ziploc bag or Tupperware container. 

*Do not use a metal spoon on non-stick pans as it will ruin them

Other Homemade Play Ideas: 

Finger Paint – Emily loves to paint and pretend to be a mini Picasso. What child doesn’t?  This homemade finger paint leaves me with zero worries when she puts the entire paint brush (or fingers) in her mouth, which happens pretty frequently.  It may not taste very good, but at least I know what’s in it and how it was made.  

Bath Paint – Sure we have loads of bath toys for Emily to play with, but this homemade bath paint is something fun and new on the occasions she doesn’t want to take a bath.  With only three ingredients, it can be made in a matter of minutes.  It truly doesn’t get much easier than this! 

Oobleck – This fun idea comes from local blogger, Say and Play Columbus.  If you don’t already follow her blog or IG account (@saynplaycolumbus) you should!  She has lots of fun sensory and learning ideas for little ones.  This two-ingredient recipe for oobleck looks likes loads of fun! (*Scroll down the page about 1/2 way for the recipe). 

Edible Slime – If there’s one thing Emily loves to do, it’s making a mess.  Whether it be dumping her box of blocks on the floor or swirling her yogurt around her dinner plate, for her, more mess = more fun! This edible slime looks like something she would love!  

Sand Castle Dough – What child doesn’t like playing in the sand? We took Emily to the beach for the first time last summer and she loved building sand castles, digging holes and we had practically had to tear her away from the fun when it was ready to go.  When it’s too cold to play in your outdoor sandbox, make this sand castle dough for just as much fun! 

Gelatin Squish Bag – This is going on our “must make” list for sure!  Emily loves playing with things in bags for some reason.  Sometimes I just put dry cereal in a plastic bag for her to smash up, which provides a good amount of fun, but I think she’d like this even more!  This gelatin squish bag not only looks pretty entertaining, but is also completely edible should she get a hole in the bag and get it on her hands.

I hope you’ve found some of these new and fun play ideas helpful to keep your kids occupied indoors this winter. With simple ingredients and minimal time on your part to make them, it’ll help everyone beat the winter blues! 




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