Play @ your library: Playdough Party

Want to have one of the most successful library programs ever? Make playdough.

We did this program with 3-8 year olds, but I can see this working with even older kids, up through middle school–it’s all how you market it. It’s a great program to do at the library because, sadly, I think a lot of kids don’t get to engage in messy play at home because parents don’t want to face the clean-up.

Before we made the playdough we retold the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears with finger puppets because the story uses a lot of descriptive vocabulary–hot, cold, slow, fast, hard, soft—and I thought it was a fun way to launch into the program.

We made the following three recipes, making sure to talk about different textures, scents, temperatures, and other properties. Then we let the kids spend a lot of time playing and building, and allowed them to take home as much playdough as they wanted. We also printed out the recipes for parents to take home if they chose.

(I found the recipes at, which is my new favorite website. There are many more recipes up there, so choose your favorite.)

Kool-Aid Play Dough

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 package of Kool-Aid
1 cup hot water
Combine ingredients and mix.

Coffee Play Dough

2 cups used coffee grounds
1 and 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup salt
Mix all ingredients until pliable. Add water, flour as needed to achieve a working consistency.

Oatmeal Play Dough

1 part flour
1 part water
2 parts oatmeal
Mix well and knead

Read more:

11 responses to “Play @ your library: Playdough Party”

  1. The Kool-Aid version sounds very colorful, but I wonder whether the coloring in the Kool-Aid powder itself will migrate to objects, either directly or, via small handprints, indirectly.


    1. Nope! It completely integrates into the playdough and won’t stain anything. It’s designed to be ingested, after all!


  2. I hadn’t thought of doing this with the older kids! We pre-make playdough a lot for our after storytime activity even for the toddlers (it’s edible so it won’t matter if they book it in their mouths). We use food dye instead of kool-aid and sometimes scent ours with gingerbread spices in November and December. It is ALWAYS a hit and they get to take it home-even better!
    I second you here, everyone should be doing this.


    1. I know, right? I think older kids would especially like the coffee version, it’s pretty gross.


  3. I think you’ve just helped me create one of my themes for my fall Afterschool program I’m going to start. It’s geared towards kids in grades 2-4 and I think, even with the 4th graders, this could be a big hit. So thank you!


    1. You’re very welcome! You’ll have to let me know how it goes!


  4. Angela Hegadorn Avatar
    Angela Hegadorn

    Hi Miss Julie,
    Can I ask you about some logistics? Did you make the play dough while the children watched, or did they make the play dough along with you?


    1. Hi Angela! Since we were working with 3-8 year olds, we made the playdough with their help. I allowed the kids to touch/smell/taste the ingredients, and allowed them to pour them in after they were measured, and everyone helped with the stirring. We had three different recipes at three different tables, with about seven kids at each table. If you did this with an older group, they could definitely do they measuring, pouring and mixing themselves with supervision (and just make sure an adult handles the hot water).

      I hope that answers your question! If you need more clarification please let me know!


  5. How does the “stickyness” and “pliability” of these recipes do compared to others that include things like vegetable oil or cream of tartar? I’ve tried many recipes that kind of crumble and don’t really end up mashing together properly, but they included more ingredients than this. I’ve got my own recipe that I feel does pretty well, but I also think it could use an improvement somewhere. Not sure if I should add or take away something. Any guidance?


    1. Jennifer, the kool-aid playdough ends up with a consistency very much like store bought playdough. The other doughs were more akin to bread or cookie dough. The coffee dough took the most improvising, as I had to add extra flour to make it into a dough the kids could play with. I would try the kool aid dough recipe and see how it goes; it’s the one I turn to for the most typical Playdough experience.


  6. […] Have a mixing & “cooking” program where you make  flubber or playdough. […]


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