Save Big – Make Your Own Play Dough & ‘Moon Sand’

My dad is retired Air Force and when I was very young we spent four years living on an Air Force base in Taiwan.  There were six of us kids and no jobs for spouses on base so money was always tight, plus there was only a small commissary to shop at, certainly no toy stores or anything for kids so we were forced to be very creative and made a lot of our own toys.  I’ve got fond memories of my mother making play dough for us on rainy weekends so we could entertain ourselves indoors, and how we used to love requesting our favorite colors.

My kids love to create with play dough and Moon Sand, but we go through a LOT of it with five kids and it can get pretty expensive so we like to make our own, and I really love that we’re building similar fond memories for our children.  Amazon has good prices for the real stuff, $12.88 for Play-Doh 24 Pack of Colors and $24.99 for Moon Sand Yellow 5 LB Bag, or if you’d prefer here are the recipes to make your own!

Play Dough

Although there are other recipes that don’t require a stove, we really prefer this cooked version because it has a better texture and is easier to use.

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
2 cups warm water
1 cup salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon cream of tartar (can leave it out if you don’t have it, but it makes the mixture more elastic)
Food coloring (can use liquid or powder types, or even unsweetened drink mixes for more vivid colors)

Mix all ingredients except the food coloring in a pan and cook on low heat.  Stir often and keep cooking until the dough is no longer sticky and pulls away from the sides, forming a ball in the center of the pan.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool before working with the dough.  Once the dough is cool, knead it until the texture becomes very smooth then divide the dough and roll it in to four balls of equal size.

Press an indentation into the top of a dough ball and add 5-6 drops of food coloring, you can add more if needed after mixing.  I highly recommend doing this step using gloves on a silicone mat or on wax paper so the coloring doesn’t make a mess.  Keep in mind that food colors are condensed and you’ll need quite a bit more if using unsweetened drink mixes for coloring.

Moon Sand

Ingredients:

6 cups play sand
3 cups corn starch
1 1/2 cups cold water
Food coloring (can use liquid or powder types, or even unsweetened drink mixes for more vivid colors)

We get a big container of corn starch from Sam’s Club for less than $3, or you can find it in boxes for cheap at most dollar stores, and you can get small containers of play sand at craft stores, but we typically buy it in 5o-pound bags at the hardware store.

Thoroughly mix the water and corn starch together, making sure that it’s smooth with no lumps.

Mix in the sand, a little bit at a time, while stirring it up with your fingers. 

The play sand is available in several different colors, or you can mix your own custom colors by adding food coloring.  Divide the sand into five portions and add 7-8 drops of food coloring, you can add more if needed after mixing.  I highly recommend doing this step using gloves on a silicone mat or on wax paper so the coloring doesn’t make a mess.  Keep in mind that food colors are condensed and you’ll need quite a bit more if using unsweetened drink mixes for coloring.

TIP:  Store your play dough and “moon sand” in airtight containers and simply add another teaspoon or two of water next time you use them if they dry out a bit!

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Comments

  1. Have you heard of the Dr. Seuss book Bartholomew and the Oobleck? My kids and I read the book, then make our own oobleck. Here’s the recipe for it (it’s really simple). The only thing we do is add food coloring to it. http://www.science-house.org/CO2/activities/polymer/oobleck.html

  2. This is really cool! Thanks so much for sharing – my six year old son thinks he’s a scientist and is constantly wanting to mix things up, he’ll LOVE doing this :)

  3. Katie L.J says:

    Hey, can somebody try this and tell me if it Really works? Plz/Thx.

  4. Beula J. Sigler says:

    “There were six of us kids and no jobs for spouses on base so money was always tight, plus there was only a small commissary to shop at, certainly no toy stores or anything for kids so we were forced to be very creative and made a lot of our own toys.”

    I commend you for being so positve despite having a difficult life before. You channel those experiences into becoming creative.

    Making my own play dough and moon sand sounds fun and a great way to bond with friends and family. kids love this kind of stuff.

    Beula J. Sigler

  5. Brady Clark says:

    That’s pretty interesting and fun for kids! Thanks for sharing this. And halloween is fast approaching this can be good for preparing little trick or treat for the kids and design scary stuffs.

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