Homemade Play Dough and the Solar System

Ruby and I made play dough last week. It was so very simple to mix up and such a fun activity to do at home!

She loved it. I gathered a few random kitchen gadgets for her to play with and she got to work!

Oh, how I adore those sweet little fingers!

The recipe is rather simple and easy ingredients that most have sitting in their cupboards.

Here’s what you need:

1 c. flour
1/2 c. salt
1 c. water
1 tbsp. oil
2 tsp. cream of tartar
Food coloring by drop

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Transfer to a metal pot and stir all ingredients together while heating on low. Continue to stir until a ball forms. Transfer dough to counter (be careful, it’s warm!) and separate into 4 sections. Add a few dots of coloring to each section and knead each individual ball of dough (adding dots of color as you go!) until you reach the desired shade.

Store in an airtight container. I like to keep ours in the fridge, but you can also keep stored at room temperature!

I grew up on homemade play dough. I remember sitting at our family kitchen table and playing with it for hours and hours.

My greatest of memory of play dough was when I was in fifth grade. Our solar system model project was due in just a few days. All the cool kids were using perfectly round foam balls, purchased at our local craft store, of all different sizes and painting them the different planet colors, attaching pipe cleaners and glitter sparkles for extra flair, and orbiting their planets with wooden dowels (Sorry! I know that is a RIDICULOUS run-on sentence!). They all looked so cool.

But, my project was going to be nothing of that caliber,… completely different. There were 5 kids in my family after all and money wasn’t just floating around. Buying something like cylindrical foam balls was a luxury and not something we were able to splurge on. So I was forced to use what we had,… home made play dough dyed different colors to match the planets and thin sewing thread tied to a hanger to suspend my bulky and heavy play dough planets. On the day my project was due, I walked into class with my head hanging low, envious of my classmates pristine models and embarrassed of my homemade mess of play dough. The teacher had us showcase our models out in the hallway for a week. Everyday I walked by drooling over my classmates perfectly painted, round, and oh so very light and airy planets, while I meekly looked over at my heavy dry play dough planets barely hanging on by a thread (literally!). By the end of the week, a few of my planets had broken off, weighing down the thin sewing thread that they hung from. Oh, how pitiful.

I don’t even remember what I got on that project. I’m sure it was an “A” for effort or something of that sort, but what I do remember was the envy I had in the perfectly pristine solar models my classmates brought in. However, now when I look back on that experience, I am thankful for those heavy play dough planets. I think how thankful I am that I didn’t have the pristine solar system model. That I was forced to work with what I had at home. That I was forced to be creative, appreciate what I had, and be thankful when the time came to be given something out of the ordinary. My parents, in their efforts to raise five children, taught us to appreciate the things in life. To be thankful for all that we were given. Even though I couldn’t understand that when I stood in the elementary school hallway gazing at those foam planets, I am SO very thankful that I can look back on that now and laugh… and be thankful.

J and I are always talking of how we will raise our Ruby. I want her to grow up not thinking that she deserves all the perfect things in life. It’s not as tight for us as it was for my parents when they had all five of us kids. Who knows where we will be when Ruby enters the fifth grade (Gasp! Fifth grade?! She’s NEVER growing up!!), but I do hope no matter what our circumstances (whether foam planets or play dough planets!), I pray that we raise a child that is thankful for what she has been given. That she appreciates all that is given to her.

Sweet little Ruby, I am so very thankful for YOU! The gift from God you are to your dah-dah and mah-mah! You are our treasure…

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12 Responses to “Homemade Play Dough and the Solar System”

  1. Katherine Says:

    I loved this post! :)

  2. Becky Says:

    Very sweet post. (And if Ruby wants to make play dough planets, you could always lighten them up by adding a wad of aluminum foil to shape them around, lol!)

  3. Rachael Says:

    Love this post!!!!! And guess what…I had the exact same play-dough solar system experience years prior…so sad…but we sure appreciate everything we have now bc it is a gift from God!

    Btw – instead of food coloring you can use a kool-aid packet for color and scent! You can even add glitter to it too, for extra fun! (and to make those planets twinkle! Lol)

  4. Liza Says:

    oh bosom friend, I love this post…I too have fond memories of this playdough! We must play with this all together someday soon(once Charlotte is past the stick everything in your mouth stage….ick, all that salt) A and I want our kids to be thankful and appreciate what they have as well. I too am thankful we had to “do without” sometimes! you are such a great mommy! hugs, Liza

  5. Ginette Says:

    I totally played with homemade play dough too! My mom even made homemade fruit roll ups (those were like your planet experience! I always just wanted the brightly colored ones filled with sugar, like all the other kids…not the healthy, better tasting ones my mom made by hand…..)

    Anyway, i am STOKED to have a recipe! Thanks for sharing yours, I can’t wait to try it! :)

  6. rachel Says:

    Lydia thanks for posting the recipe! I made some playdough for Elijah and his friend Ethan to play with. Ethan totally loved it and Elijah loved trying to put it in his mouth and/or put it in the carpet lol but it was such fun!

  7. Elizabeth Henriques Says:

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  8. laura Says:

    that waz a good paragraph i have to do a solar system so that could be a great idea to do im also in 5th grade

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