Play dough is a classic kid activity, but for those of who have gluten-sensitive or intolerant children, or are ourselves, the store-bought version isn’t really an option. Enter this homemade gluten-free play dough! Made without wheat (or any other gluten-containing ingredients) or artificial food coloring, this dough is fun to play with and healthy too.
Play dough has long been a favorite craft medium in my house.
For my kids, that is. I personally have never really liked the stuff.
It’s not so much the inevitable mess that comes with a play dough session that bothers me. It’s the anticipation of finding my 2-year old eating it, getting her share of gluten and dyes made from who-knows-what. And then there’s the knowing that for a few hours after craft time my dining room will have that awful play dough smell. Yeah, I’m not a fan.
Thankfully, for gluten-free, dye-free, and weird fragrance-free homes like mine, the solution is easy: make your own play dough.
By the way, if you are looking for more gluten-free resources, make sure to check out my Everything Gluten Free resource page!
Though it may sound a little intimidating, homemade gluten-free play dough is very easy to make. Just a few ingredients most moms have in the kitchen, and you’re set! You can replace unnatural food coloring with coloring made from food. And you can swap artificial scents with the wonderful aromas of essential oils!
Now my kids can happily enjoy their “crafts. And I don’t have to worry about my toddler digesting gluten and unhealthy food coloring. Plus as a bonus, my dining room ends up smelling like an aroma therapy session just happened.
Please note that, even though this play dough is perfectly safe to consume, if you’re worried about your kiddos ingesting essential oils, you can leave them out. Making this play dough essential oil-free still won’t leave your dining room smelling strange. 😉
Homemade Gluten-Free Play Dough
Gluten-Free Play Dough Base
- 1/2 cup rice flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder
- 1/2 cup salt
- 4 teaspoons cream of tartar
For One Batch of Play Dough
- 6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon play dough base or 1/4 of the total base mix (measure by weight for exact amount)
- 1/4 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup water
- coloring recipe of choice
- 3 drops essential oil of choice optional, but wonderful!
Natural Coloring Options
- pink: 1 teaspoon grape juice
- green: 1 1/2 tablespoons powdered parsley grind in coffee grinder
- yellow: 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- brown: 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
Natural Fragrance Options
- pink: lavender or geranium essential oil
- green: peppermint or wintergreen or eucalyptus essential oils
- yellow: lemon essential oil
- brown: sandalwood or cedar wood essential oils or leave EO out for a nice chocolatey smell!
- Whisk together base ingredients and set aside.
- Measure dry ingredients for one batch of play dough into a small saucepan. (If using a dry coloring, whisk in here.)
- Pour in liquid ingredients and mix to combine.
- Heat over medium-low - stirring constantly - until dough is thick and begins to form a ball.
- Remove from heat and cool (though it won’t really be that hot).
- If you feel the dough is too dry, knead in a few more drops of water at a time until desired squishy-ness is reached. If you feel it’s too wet, knead in a few tablespoons of starch.
- Store in covered container or ziplock bag.
For more natural coloring options, Nourishing Joy has nice, long list you can peruse.
88 Pages of Early Learning Printables
Are you looking for some fun activities to do with your Pre-K or Kindergartner? Consider adding this set of 88 printable pages to your collection – it includes 26 play dough mats for guided play dough creativity!
- Wikki Stix Mats (26)
- Play Dough Mats (26)
- Color-Your-Own Alphabet Cards (26)
- 10 Tracing Pages
I love the natural colouring suggestions! I never would have thought to grind up parsley for green. In the past I used spirulina to get a blue-green coloured playdough, but the parsley would give a much “greener” shade – going to try that next time I’m making playdough 🙂
Spirulina sounds like a good option, too. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by, Kyra!