Toys You Can Make: Playdough and More


How to entertain the grandkids? The age-old problem. My lifestyle has moved on a bit from the toddler stage, and there are only so many age-appropriate toys I can keep for them year-to-year. So how about making some toys?

Playdough comes immediately to mind. It appeals to all ages. It provides the fun of cooking without the calories. Even ten-year-olds will play with this toy. And you can make it yourself! Here’s one easy recipe, although you can find an almost endless variety on the web.

Playdough Recipe


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup cold water
  • food coloring

Mix dry ingredients add wet ingredients … mix well. Cook over medium heat until it holds together and is slightly clearer in the color. Knead a few times let cool.

The playdough can be molded by hand, or use a rolling pin and cookie cutters.

Another perennial favorite: Oobleck (take a copy of the Dr. Seuss book Bartholomew and the Oobleck out of the library to read before making it).

Oobleck is a non-newtonian fluid. That is, it acts like a liquid when being poured, but like a solid when a force is acting on it. You can grab it and then it will ooze out of your hands. Make enough Oobleck and you can even walk on it!

Oobleck Recipe


  • 1 part water
  • 1.5 to 2 parts cornstarch
  • Small amount of food coloring (optional)

Start with the water in a bowl (or wading pool!) and add the cornstarch a bit at a time. Keep stirring until it has a gooey consistency. You may want to use your hands. When the oobleck is just right, slowly add food coloring, if you want. This can be a challenge to get it mixed properly.

Play with it.

Here’s a list of things to do:

  • Grab a handful and squeeze it. Let it ooze through your fingers.
  • Make a puddle and quickly drag your fingers through it.
  • Put it into a plastic container and shake it or quickly bump it against a table.
  • Jab at the oobleck and then slowly let your finger sink in.
  • Roll some oobleck into a ball. It becomes solid, but when you stop moving it, it will melt back into your hand.

 Here’s a video if you prefer to learn that way.

toys to make - fingerpaint

Mess free.

And last but certainly not least: Fingerpaint. At the very thought, kids shout hooray and parents shudder. All that paint: everywhere. Well, worry not, ye parents. There is a way for you AND your kids to shout hooray. So brilliant. To think I never knew this tip when my kids were little: put the paint inside a large plastic freezer bag, seal it up, stick it downon a flat surface with painters tape, and voila! messless fingerpainting. Of

toys - fingerpaint

Or not. Your choice.

course, it lacks the squishy feel of the real experience, but when it’s winter and you can’t send the mess outside, it works.


Cornstarch Fingerpaint

3 cups water
1 cup cornstarch
food coloring

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Dissolve cornstarch in a separate bowl with water. Remove boiling water from heat and add cornstarch mixture. Return to heat, stirring constantly. Boil until the mixture is clear and thick (about 1 minute). Remove from heat.

As the mixture is cooling, divide into separate bowls and add food coloring. Let the children carefully mix in the coloring.

Add 1 tbsp of glycerin to make the mixture shiny. You can find glycerin in most drugstores or pharmacies.

And please keep in mind that YOU are the biggest source of entertainment for your grandchild. Take her on a walk. Go to the local swimming pool, lake or beach. Cook with him. Garden. If, like me, you only get to see them occasionally, put aside your other activities and distractions and BE with them.

Do you have suggestions to share with our readers? Please use the comment form to add to our toy/activity list.

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