• Renee Hudlow

Cooking with Toddlers: Pumpkin Spice Playdough

This no-cook recipe is so simple that your toddler will be able to complete most of the steps! And, it takes less than 20 minutes (even with your little helper!)

Toddler playing with pumpkin spice playdough, leaves, and acorns

Making playdough is one of my toddler's favorite activities. She seems to enjoy the process of making it as much as the final product!


This pumpkin spice version is based on our Everyday Super Soft No Cook Playdough recipe. I love that it takes 20 minutes or less from prep to clean up. And that's with a toddler helping!


Setting up

ingredients for playdough (flour, salt, cream of tarter, spices, food coloring)

Setting up ahead of time makes cooperative cooking significantly easier. So, while my toddler reorganized my pots and pans cabinet, I gathered and measured out the dry ingredients.


As shown in one of the pictures below, I use small bowls or Tupperware to separate out each measured ingredient. This step usually takes about 3 minutes.


Optional: Blend the salt

Not a requirement, but it helps the salt dissolve evenly, making the playdough less sticky and grainy. If you skip this step, you may need to add a tad more salt and flour at the end.

salt and food processor

Inviting your toddler to join

Once I have blended the salt and measured out the dry ingredients, I my toddler mixes them in.

She loves pouring and stirring! While she's doing this, I heat up some water in our electric kettle.


If you make a double batch, like we did, I do suggest using a bigger bowel that the one pictured! That being said, we chose this bowl because it was plastic, which keeps the play-dough from sticking.


3 pictures showing mixing, stirring, and kneading playdough
3 steps that toddlers where participate

Dealing with Hot Water

The boiling water is essential to this recipe because the heat helps the flour and water bind, but it's definitely a job for the grown-ups!


After removing my toddler from the counter, I measure the hot water and mix in the food coloring. Mixing in colors at this step helps it dissolve evenly. Then, I make a hole in the center of the dry mix, and add in the colored water and oil.


Kneading it Out

Next, I stir dough till the ingredients are mixed. Now it's ready to knead! By this point, the mix should have cooled enough that your toddler can help, but it will still be a little sticky. As it cools, however, some of the moisture will evaporate, and the salt will continue to reduce the moisture over time. After about 5-7 minutes of kneading, it should the right consistency!


Invitation to Play

When setting out the playdough, I usually pair it with some small loose parts, in this case acorns and leaves. These materials enhance the sensory experience and tend to lengthen the time my child spends engaged.

 

Our Recipe

toddler kneading playdough

This is actually the Oxford Toy Closet's Everyday Super Soft No-Cook Playdough, with one added ingredient: Pumpkin Pie Spice! If you don't have Pumpkin Pie Spice on hand, you can mix up your own.






Materials

  • Plastic mixing bowl

  • Kettle or pot to boil water

  • Silicone spatula for mixing

  • Small bowls for separating ingredients (if your toddler is helping)

  • Old jars, tupperware, silicone bags, or ziplock bags for storage

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of flour

  • 2 tsp of cream of tarter

  • 1/4 a cup of salt

  • 1 tsp. Pumpkin pie spice

  • 1/2 cup boiling water

  • Food coloring (15-20 drops)

  • 1 tbs. oil

Directions

  1. Measure out the dry ingredients. If cooking with a young toddler, place each ingredient in a small bowl or container.

  2. Mix the dry ingredients together. (This is a great step for your little helper!)

  3. Adults only: Boil the water. You will want to boil more than 1/2 cup, as some will evaporate. Measure out 1/2 cup of water and mix in the food coloring.

  4. Add the colored water and oil to the dough. Mix until all ingredients are combined.

  5. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for 5-7 minutes. Once it's cool enough, your toddler will want to help!

Troubleshooting

If your dough is still sticky after kneading, it is too moist. You can reduce the moisture by adding in 1/2 tbs. of salt and 1/2 tbs. of flour. If needed, you can continue adding flour in small increments till it reaches the consistency you desire.


Enjoy and please leave your feedback on this recipe below. If you completed this project with your toddler, let us know how it went!

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