DIY Dough: It Smells Like Fall In Here

I’ve been making my own play dough for years now. I’m not a fan of the commercially marketed brand we are all familiar with. Quite frankly, it smells weird and since the company that creates it won’t list its exact ingredients, it makes me leery. So…I make my own for use at Salt Meadow Academy.

Lots of dough recipes call for using Cream of Tarter. If you’re anything like me, I had never ever used Cream of Tarter for baking before. I had no clue what it was. So I did my research, and decided that my play dough will never contain Cream of Tarter. Cream of Tarter quite often contains aluminum. No thanks! Since it’s primary role in the dough is to add an acid, I use lemon juice instead, and it works perfectly!


1 1/4 cups all purpose white flour
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup salt (I use fine sea salt with no issues)
3 teaspoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons (approximately) of oil (extra virgin olive oil and canola have both worked fine for me)

Lots of recipes call for the use of food coloring, I typically don’t use it unless I have a natural coloring on hand.

1. Mix the flour and the salt together in a small pan.
2. Stir in the water slowly over low heat.(I advise against using a whisk, the dough gets stuck! We use a rubber scraper)
3. Add the oil and the lemon.
4. Stir well to mix in all of the loose dry ingredients.
5. Once the dough forms (it happens really fast) let the mixture cool slightly before handling.
6. If the dough ball is still a bit sticky add a little more flour.
7. Knead the dough until all the stickiness is gone.

We keep ours fresh by keeping it in screw top mason jars.

When we made it today, we split the dough in half, we scented half of it by mixing in ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and cloves! We added some vanilla to the other. You can use any combination of spices or even essential oils that you have on hand. If you are using the essential oils, you’ll likely need to add more flour to balance out the addition of a wet ingredient. We also LOVE to use herbs from the garden, especially sage, basil, thyme, mint and lavender!

Our entire classroom smelled delicious. The kids couldn’t wait to get their hands into the dough. We find this dough is very smooth and user friendly.

Cinnamon play dough! We poked it!

Cinnamon play dough! We poked it!


We pushed loose parts into it!


We created patterns!


We made a birthday cake!


It was perfect for rolling ribbon spools across to make a road.


Arms and legs were rolled to create a “snow man”.


It was all bunched up to start again!

Does anyone create their own dough? What do you scent or color yours with?


2 thoughts on “DIY Dough: It Smells Like Fall In Here

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