Simple Recipes For Creative Play: Homemade Fingerpaints, Play Dough and Gloop!


I don’t know about you, but here at Casa Aaron, we’re spending a ton of time outside, what with this gorgeous weather and all.  18-month old Sophie has been enjoying her little wading pool, begging for extra time in her swing on the back patio and I’m getting short of breath keeping up with her repeated demands of “bubble! bubble!”.

In fact, it was Sophie’s recent fascination with bubbles that sent me on a mental trip down memory lane to when her older brother, Zoe,  was her age.  With a 14 year age gap between my first two children, I am constantly rediscovering things I used to do as a young mother to entertain and educate my child.  I dug through Zoe’s Memory Box (or as he always called it,  his “Special Box”) and found our old recipes for all manner of homemade playthings.  All of these recipes work best in warm weather (in other words, they are all best kept outside on your deck or patio–you really don’t want to scrub any of these substances out of your carpet…), so I thought I’d share a few of our favorites here. These are all simple to make with ingredients already in your home. Now, grab your wee ones and let’s get messy!!

TIPS:  Empty yogurt containers with lids are great for storing paints, doughs and gloops. If you’d rather not use food coloring to dye your creations, there are great natural dye ideas out there, such as beet juice for magenta and turmeric for yellow.


2 cups water, 3 TBS sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 cup flour.  Mix everything together in a pan and stir constantly over medium heat until the mixture thickens to desired consistency.  Remove from heat and pour into small bowls. Use a few drops of food coloring into each bowl to create amazing colors!finger_painting_picture

A few quick, even EASIER ideas for homemade fingerpaints:  1) Drop some food coloring into vanilla pudding or plain/vanilla yogurt for edible fingerpaints (playtime and snack time in one?!)  2) Sprinkle some food coloring into a small bowl of fragrance-free lotion.  Surprisingly, this works really well! (And mom–it makes your hands REALLY soft!)


There are a million recipes for cooked and uncooked play doughs out there, but this was always my favorite:  1 cups flour, 1 cups water, 1/2 cup salt, 2 TBS cream of tartar.  Combine all ingredients in a heavy pan and cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.  (Hint: add food coloring to your pre-cooked mixture for even color or add dye after the mixture has cooled for a streaky, marbled effect!)


Super fun and super easy!! Due to the lack of humidity here, you may need to add a little more water than the recipe calls for to get the right consistency.

3 cups cornstarch, 1 3/4 cups water, 1 tsp vinegar.  Mix everything together, drop in some food coloring and you’re good to go!  What is Gloop, you ask?  You’ll have to make it to find out!

Do you have any recipes for creative, homemade playthings?

Please share your ideas for messy play with our readers–we can all use some new tricks up our sleeves!







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