"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." - John 16:33

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Adventure Making Gluten Free Play Dough

Two weeks ago I read a blog post from 1+1+1=1 in their 12 Days of Christmas Series.  Carisa shared an idea for her "Busy Hands Play Dough Box".  I fell in love with the idea of the box but also had never thought to add a scent (using extracts) and glitter to home made play dough.  What a great sensory activity! I got excited and quickly added this to my Christmas "to do" list. Our only issue?  Our children are gluten free.  The only time I had made home made play dough was with regular flour so I got to work researching gluten free recipes.  The first thing I discovered was that there are not any gluten free no cook play dough recipes. (At least none that I could find.) I wasn't sure how that would effect the sparkles or the scent but I was willing to give it a shot!  I chose a recipe I found through About.com Celiac Disease.  These are the things I learned in my experimenting:

Mix everything together in the pot you are going to use.  Do not bother with mixing it in a separate bowl.   Be sure to use a metal pot and a metal or a hard plastic mixing spoon.  I added food coloring until I reached the color I wanted.  I chose different scents for each color dough but I really didn't measure it out.  I poured in the extract until it smelled "strong enough" for me.  I wanted a strong scent to stimulate the sense of smell during play (Identifying scents is an ABA goal for Peanut because he doesn't distinguish between "good" smells and "bad" smells).  I just dumped in a ton of sparkles.  They clump together until your dough begins to clump and firm and then they disperse in the dough.
The instructions just say to "cook".  Well, I don't know about you but I need something a little more specific.  So I found it worked best to start on high heat and turn it down once it began to clump up.  

Once the dough begins to get "clumpy" then turn the heat down to medium high.  Be sure you are constantly stirring the dough.  It will take less than a minute to get to this point so don't walk away from the pot.

This is the stage when you will need to use your muscles to mix up the dough.

After the dough cooled to the point where I could handle it, I put it on a piece of wax paper and put it in the refrigerator to cool.  Once it cools, knead the dough a couple of times and you are ready to play!

Here is my final dough!  All of my dough have red sparkles.  I made red cinnamon, white peppermint and green vanilla.  Now I can't wait for the kids to play with them!

The other things I learned during this experiment:
  • If you are a household like ours and don't use regular table salt be sure to buy 2 containers of salt. (I ran out and had to steal the salt from our shakers).
  • If you steal salt from your salt shaker, don't forget that you may have rice in it to absorb moisture!  (oops!)
  • If you want your white dough to smell like vanilla then be sure to use clear vanilla extract or it will turn your dough tan.
  • Don't forget to add the rice flour or you won't get dough, you'll get a pot full of goop, and you can't add the flour to the goop to try to salvage it because it won't work.  (oops again!)
  • It is impossible to find glitter in the month of December and next year i'll have to buy glitter in November so i can get all of the colors I want.
I hope that helps all of you gluten free families out there.  Just because you are gluten free doesn't mean the kids have to miss out!

God Bless!
Mommy Provost


  1. Can you tell me how long this dough lasted your children? Does it go bad over time, or dry out, and how do you store it?

  2. I made the play dough this past Sunday, and I've never made gluten free play dough, so I'm not sure how long it will last. I seem to remember the last time I made play dough (not gluten free) that it lasted for a good couple of months or so. It should be stored in an airtight container. If you leave it out it will dry out, just like the play dough you can buy. To my knowledge it doesn't go bad (you mean spoil right?). Right now I have our gluten free dough in a zip lock bag and it seems to be holding up well. I hope this helps!

  3. Thank you! I just tried the About.com recipe last night and was in tears. Mine did not "cook" as directed--I wish I had these instructions and will now try it again...my little guy has Celiacs and his Preschool teacher has asked that I make gluten free playdough for his entire class! Reading this, I now feel a little more empowered to try again :>).