Another Grandma Lesson

I admit it.  I don’t “do” play dough. As a grandmother, you might have thought I had a wonderful recipe to create this colorful, mushy stuff.  Obviously, after years of lovingly making it for my children and now my grandchildren, the recipe would be perfect. Wrong!  I never let my kids play with it (yes, I feel a little guilty…now).   But, in my defense, when my kids were kids, there wasn’t Pinterest, Google or even the internet. I didn’t  know play dough could be made from scratch. I always thought it had to be purchased from the store.

I felt, at the time, like I had good reasons for not letting them play with it. Of course, stunting their fun or creativity was not among them. Although, in today’s language, I would not be participating in an activity that could help develop their fine motor skills and tactile perception. Which sounds much worse. Honestly, I simply didn’t want to scrape it off the floor and table, pick it out of the carpet (we had shaggier carpet then) or scrub it off the couch.  Plus, my youngest put everything in his mouth.  He used to carry small Legos between his lower lip and teeth, like a kangaroo pouch. Yikes.  Much to my dismay, he didn’t break this habit until he was 4 or 5 years old.

My granddaughter is allowed to play with play dough at her house (great big sigh). Yes, the colorful kind that comes in cute, small tubs.  I suspiciously watch her play with it, time after time, when I visit their home.  I look around, noticing if any is smeared on the walls or permanently stuck to the floor and furniture.  It wasn’t.  Her worst offense was not putting the lid back on the canister. Pinterest taunts me with Pins on the “the best play dough recipe – EVER” or “I made scented play dough for my kids”.  All good moms and yes, grandmom’s, make their own play dough, don’t you know. Ugh.

The pressure was on and I finally caved.  The next time my granddaughter was over for the weekend, I made my very first batch of play dough.  It did result in a wonderful neon green and a beautiful color blue thanks to Wilton.


Here is the recipe I used (adapted from several I looked at):

Play dough

  • 2 ½ cups of flourresized-playdough6
  • ½ cup salt
  • 3 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbs. cream of tartar
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • Food coloring

Combine flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large bowl.  Make a well or dent in the center. Pour in boiling water. Mix. Put on the cutting board and knead until smooth.  Put the dough in a gallon zip lock bag and add food coloring.  Knead in the food coloring while it is in the bag (this will keep your hands from getting stained). Open bag and let it cool.  Store in the refrigerator.playdough3

I also purchased a bag of cookie cutters from the dollar store and gave her some plastic knives and forks to use.resized-playdough2

Come to find out, my granddaughter is very good at keeping the play dough on the table, nothing much hits the floor.


I laugh and poke fun at myself for being so concerned about cleaning up play dough.  There is a different perceptive that you gain with grandchildren.  I think it may be a type of calm that is acquired though years of living life. I am now less concerned about a messy hand grabbing my shirt, a runny nose, wiped on my shoulder at lightning speed (before I can grab a tissue) and hearing cheerios crunch under my feet, as I walk through the room.  All things I would have been annoyed about a couple of decades earlier.

The grandma lesson I learned though play dough: Relax! Most things can be washed, wiped or vacuumed – it is just not that big of a deal. They will remember the time spent with you, not how neat and tidy the house is.  Sit down, have some fun, get creative and squish that dough.

I am now a reformed play dough maker. And, yes, I WILL make it again – possibly even scented!

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