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Garden Play Dough

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If you’ve been following along for a while, you’ll know that Z and I have been making play dough together for a while now. Not only is it a great early introduction to cooking, but there’s heaps of learning benefits too. Our basic recipe pretty much always stays the same – no need to look at a recipe, but we’re forever adapting and changing ingredients. Read on to find out about our latest play dough session…

Garden Play dough from start to finish…

Z helped me with every element of the play dough making process, from picking the herbs in the garden, to mixing and stirring it all up! Whilst playing with play dough has heaps of benefits in its own right, here’s why I always choose to do the whole thing with my three year old daughter:

  • One on one time: Z has two brothers (aged 10 and 1) and I try to carve out individual time for all of them. Z and I like to create together and making play dough is one way we like to spend time together.
  • Early intro to mathematical skills: pouring and measuring, counting cups and even basic division featured. When she is older, i’ll introduce her to the measuring scales too.
  • Fine Motor skills: For this recipe, Z picked the herbs, used a spoon (and her hands) to mix, used a scissors to cut the herbs and finally, played with the dough!
  • Hand Strength: Squeezing the lemon juice into the bowl and mixing ingredients with her hands all helps Z to strengthen her hands.
  • It’s Fun! Put simply, this is a really fun activity for little ones. Mine love to get involved with practical activities with a purpose.

You will need:

  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • Lemon / lime
  • 1 cup of boiling water (obviously don’t your littles do this part) that has been cooled.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp of cream of tartar
  • Selection of herbs and flowers from the garden ( we used rosemary, rose petals, mint and sage)
  • Wooden spoon
  • Large bowl
  • Cup for measuring
  • Chopping board
  • Scissors


  1. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and stir in well
  2. Next squeeze in the lemon/ lime juice and the olive oil. The mixture should start to bind together
  3. Gradually pour in the cooled boiled water. Then mix together – hands are best, but please check the temperature of the mix first before letting a little one do this!
  4. Keep adding more water until you get the desired ‘play dough’ texture – it should be too crumbly or too sticky.
  5. Add more water or more flour if needed.
  6. Finally, chop the herbs with a scissors and roll into the dough
Originally we had this set out as four separate scents but little miss wanted it combined – it smells lovely!

Want More?

Check out the following articles:

Basic Play Dough Recipe

10 Activities with Play Dough

Play Dough with no Added Salt

Spring Play Dough Recipe Card

Sian Thomas

Sian Thomas

Sian is the founder of Teach Investigate Play. She helps parents navigate the early years by providing meaningful and simple activities. She also owns 'Get Set Social Media' - a social media consultancy for small businesses. From the UK, now living in Vienna (via Australia). About page has more!

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