Dear Caring Adult,

It’s already Day 4 of MIT’s Full STEAM Ahead! Today we will make play-dough. I love making play-dough with children. I hope you have a lot of fun making play-dough with your child, too.  My first job out of college was as a laboratory nursery school team-teacher. I made play-dough with and for children almost every week. They LOVED it! It was always such a delight making it, and then watching them enjoy playing with it. This play supported their gross motor development and was so gratifying. Many hours of wonderful imaginative conversations with little ones grew out of those play-dough table times.

I intentionally made the recipe with a small amount of ingredients to help us conserve our staples during this time of staying at home. This video can lead to some great math lessons about fractions, halving, and doubling.

Here are tips for you in working with your child on today’s activity:

  • If this is your child’s first time mixing ingredients in the kitchen, prepare for it to get messy. Putting on aprons not only protects clothing, but also can frame this time as special.
  • Read through the play-dough recipe.
  • Have your child pick out a non-breakable, reusable container with a sealable lid (like a yogurt container from the recycling bin) and have the child wash it before you begin making the play-dough. You can have your child “test” how the play-dough fits in the container before they actually start playing with it once the play-dough is made. That sets the expectation that the play-dough goes back into the container when your child is done using it.
  • Reiterate that play-dough is a great building material for making models of their solutions.
  • If your child wants to make different colors and you don’t want to use more ingredients, you can make a plain-colored play-dough, and when it’s initially formed, but still wet, you can divide the dough into two or three small balls of dough and add the food coloring separately to each ball of dough. It will take more time to mix it in, but it’s actually fun to watch the marbled color blend in.
  • If you do not need to conserve your ingredients, then let your child make more than one batch in different colors.
  • Your child may make a mistake making the play-dough. Stay calm and calm them down. Share that failure and mistakes are common in any invention project. Sit down with your child and try to find out where the mistake was made. Together, come up with a plan to avoid the mistake next time. We learn from our mistakes.
  • Relax and have fun with your child and some play-dough!


Dr. Pascha