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Magic Play Dough
18 Aug, 2013. 23 Comments. A Day In First Grade, Back to School, First Grade, Free, Kindergarten, Preschool. Posted By: Kristen Smith

Yesterday we had our annual “Meet The Teacher” day. It was a HUGE success! Most of my class showed up and it was so nice to meet my new crew and see many of my former students! {They are getting so big!!! AHHH!}

My friend, the Bubbly Blonde, made these darling stars as a welcome gift and my students LOVED them!! You can get them at her blog for free!! {click here to go to her blog!} They were a huge hit with my first graders and so cheap! I got a few packs of glow sticks at the dollar store! 5 for $1?? Yes, please!!

Monday is the big day. The first day of school. I will be up at school tomorrow getting all the last minute things done but in the mean time, I prepped what I could prep at home today! I always start the school year off with “magic play dough.” My class last year was OBSESSED with play dough and I’m sure I will have some eager first graders this year, too. 
If you would like to make “magic play dough” it’s SUPER easy! 
Here’s the recipe:
1 cup of flour
1/2 cup of salt
2 tbsp. of oil {do NOT use olive oil!!!!}
2 tbsp. of cream of tartar
1 cup of water
(you will also need food coloring)

{this yields enough for about 6-8 students}

I have learned a bunch of “tricks” as I have ‘mastered’ the art of play dough cooking. I’ll tell you, I swear by this method that I’m about to show you. 
First, you need a good heavy sauce pan. 
BEFORE TURNING ON THE HEAT add all of your dry ingredients. 
 
Then, add your oil.
 
Then turn your heat on to medium high and add your water. 
Stir! {and keep stirring until the end!}
 
At first it will be all nice and smooth and then it will begin to get clumpy.
This is okay! It will start to thicken as you stir.
Then, suddenly it will go from the picture above, to the picture below! As soon as it turns into the big glob, I take it off the heat. 
Once I take it off the heat I sprinkle a little bit of flour on my countertop and dump the HOT play dough out. 
Then I knead it until it is a nice consistency! {NOTE: It will be very hot!! Use caution!!}
To make the “magic” part of the magic play dough happen, I divide my play dough into enough balls as I have students. I use a muffin pan to divide it evenly. Then, you poke a hole half way into the center of each ball and add some food coloring into the hole! 
I will say this… last year I read somewhere to only add ONE drop of food coloring to the hole and I was not very happy with the colors my “magic play dough” turned. So this year, I used gel food coloring and added a good squeeze into each hole. I’d rather the color be super vibrant as opposed to really dull. 
To finish the “magic dough” just pinch the top shut and roll it into a ball!
It’s magic!! 
Before we play with this on Monday I will give my students the Magic Play Dough poem. I will introduce what a prediction is and we will make predictions as to what we think is going to happen.
If you would like this, just click on the picture and it’s yours! 
{clip art by DJ Inkers}
I “package” all of my student’s magic play dough balls into individual ziplock baggies and have them play with their dough inside the baggie until the food coloring is mixed through the dough. This prevents students from having multi-colored hands on the first day of school!!
As an aside, if you want to make a colored play dough, add your food coloring to your water. This helps mix the color into the play dough evenly. 

 photo ADayinFirstGradeSignature_zpse8bfbfe2.png

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23 Comments
  1. Love this idea! Thanks!

  2. You continue to amaze me :) YOur kids will love that stuff :)

  3. how fun! I would love to be in your class πŸ˜‰
    Question though – I’m assuming when you give it to the kids and discuss their predictions, they just knead it and the color blends throughout? Does the color stay in the play dough or does it get all over their hands?
    Do you think it would work with liquid color instead of the gel?

    Lastly – This batch that you listed measurements for – how many student balls does that produce?
    Super cool idea to introduce predictions – I am going to use it for sure!
    Bethany

    • Bethany– Great questions! After our lesson on predictions I give each student a baggie with their ball of magic play dough in it. I tell them to squish the ball inside the bag and observe what happens. (The color spreads throughout the white ball of dough) {insert the oooohhhhsss and aaaahhhhhssss} I have them play with the dough INSIDE the baggie for about a minute and a half- which spreads the food coloring into the dough and then I let them take it out. This reduces dying their hands all sorts of colors!!

      As for the recipe: I always make a double batch. The double batch makes enough for about 12 fist sized balls.

    • Thank you!!! I’m actually making it NOW! ha

  4. What a fantastic idea!! I am so doing this with my kinders. Thanks for sharing

  5. I love the poem that goes along with the activity!! Doing this next year for my cuties!!
    FYI…if you don’t have cream of tartar, you can substitute with vinegar. It will have a vinegar smell for a little while, but that eventually goes away.

  6. This is so much fun! I definitely have to try it out! Thanks for the fun freebie! I knew that using the play doh in the bag to mix the colors was the way to go. Don’t want those messy hands!

    I love the new blog design too! Blue and green are the best! It is fabulous!

    ThePolishedTeacher

  7. Love this! Does it matter what kind of flour you use?!

  8. So glad I found your site before the first day of school (MONDAY!) Will be making this tonight!
    Thanks!

  9. Oops I mean Tuesday. I made the dough tonight should I wait till Monday to add the drops of color?

  10. Oops I mean Tuesday. I made the dough tonight should I wait till Monday to add the drops of color?

  11. Sara -

    I just stumbled upon your blog and LOOOOOOVE it! i am in love with your “Magic Playdough”! It is so exciting! I think I need to do this soon…..VERY SOON!
    I am now going to follow your blog…even though I only teach Kindergarten!

  12. What a cute idea!!! I was reading thinking how messy their hands must get and you even have that covered!!! I will definately have to do this!

  13. I just discovered your blog and loved the idea of magic playdoh. I taught kindergarten many years ago & made playdoh, but now
    for my 1st graders I just give them playdoh to strengthen their fine motor skills. I loved what you did & plan to use it in few short weeks, but I have 2 questions: do you make the playdoh at home & if so do you add the food coloring then?

  14. Sue -

    Hi Kristen!

    I am planning to make this for my littles for the first day of school. I am wondering if you have an editable version of your tags that you wouldn’t mind sharing with me … or of you can make and provide a copy with Canadian spelling (colour). I would be willing to pay for it!
    Thanks for your time!
    Sue

  15. I love this idea! What a great way to excite kids about the year ahead. I teach students with multiple disabilities in grades K through 5. We use play dough quite often to strengthen their muscles, provide sensory input, and to increase their texture tolerance. We will enjoy this activity very much. Thank you!

  16. Do you think I could make the magic dough two weeks in advance?

    • I wouldn’t. I’m not sure how the food coloring will interact with the dough for such a long period of time.

  17. I love your STEP by STEP directions and photos! I can’t wait to make this with my first graders this year!
    Thanks so much for all the great tips!

  18. I have been doing this for many years with my kindergarteners! I usually make 2 batches (1 with color and 1 without). I make a small ball from the colored dough and put it into a ball of plain dough. I love the idea of using the muffin tin and putting the ball into a baggie. I am already planning the questions that we will use to predict and graph! Thanks for the little tricks!

23 Comments

  • Love this idea! Thanks!

  • You continue to amaze me :) YOur kids will love that stuff :)

  • how fun! I would love to be in your class πŸ˜‰
    Question though – I’m assuming when you give it to the kids and discuss their predictions, they just knead it and the color blends throughout? Does the color stay in the play dough or does it get all over their hands?
    Do you think it would work with liquid color instead of the gel?

    Lastly – This batch that you listed measurements for – how many student balls does that produce?
    Super cool idea to introduce predictions – I am going to use it for sure!
    Bethany

    • Bethany– Great questions! After our lesson on predictions I give each student a baggie with their ball of magic play dough in it. I tell them to squish the ball inside the bag and observe what happens. (The color spreads throughout the white ball of dough) {insert the oooohhhhsss and aaaahhhhhssss} I have them play with the dough INSIDE the baggie for about a minute and a half- which spreads the food coloring into the dough and then I let them take it out. This reduces dying their hands all sorts of colors!!

      As for the recipe: I always make a double batch. The double batch makes enough for about 12 fist sized balls.

    • Thank you!!! I’m actually making it NOW! ha

  • What a fantastic idea!! I am so doing this with my kinders. Thanks for sharing

  • I love the poem that goes along with the activity!! Doing this next year for my cuties!!
    FYI…if you don’t have cream of tartar, you can substitute with vinegar. It will have a vinegar smell for a little while, but that eventually goes away.

  • This is so much fun! I definitely have to try it out! Thanks for the fun freebie! I knew that using the play doh in the bag to mix the colors was the way to go. Don’t want those messy hands!

    I love the new blog design too! Blue and green are the best! It is fabulous!

    ThePolishedTeacher

  • Love this! Does it matter what kind of flour you use?!

  • So glad I found your site before the first day of school (MONDAY!) Will be making this tonight!
    Thanks!

  • Oops I mean Tuesday. I made the dough tonight should I wait till Monday to add the drops of color?

  • Oops I mean Tuesday. I made the dough tonight should I wait till Monday to add the drops of color?

  • Sara -

    I just stumbled upon your blog and LOOOOOOVE it! i am in love with your “Magic Playdough”! It is so exciting! I think I need to do this soon…..VERY SOON!
    I am now going to follow your blog…even though I only teach Kindergarten!

  • What a cute idea!!! I was reading thinking how messy their hands must get and you even have that covered!!! I will definately have to do this!

  • I just discovered your blog and loved the idea of magic playdoh. I taught kindergarten many years ago & made playdoh, but now
    for my 1st graders I just give them playdoh to strengthen their fine motor skills. I loved what you did & plan to use it in few short weeks, but I have 2 questions: do you make the playdoh at home & if so do you add the food coloring then?

  • Sue -

    Hi Kristen!

    I am planning to make this for my littles for the first day of school. I am wondering if you have an editable version of your tags that you wouldn’t mind sharing with me … or of you can make and provide a copy with Canadian spelling (colour). I would be willing to pay for it!
    Thanks for your time!
    Sue

  • I love this idea! What a great way to excite kids about the year ahead. I teach students with multiple disabilities in grades K through 5. We use play dough quite often to strengthen their muscles, provide sensory input, and to increase their texture tolerance. We will enjoy this activity very much. Thank you!

  • Do you think I could make the magic dough two weeks in advance?

    • I wouldn’t. I’m not sure how the food coloring will interact with the dough for such a long period of time.

  • I love your STEP by STEP directions and photos! I can’t wait to make this with my first graders this year!
    Thanks so much for all the great tips!

  • I have been doing this for many years with my kindergarteners! I usually make 2 batches (1 with color and 1 without). I make a small ball from the colored dough and put it into a ball of plain dough. I love the idea of using the muffin tin and putting the ball into a baggie. I am already planning the questions that we will use to predict and graph! Thanks for the little tricks!

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