Homemade Modeling Clay

Toddlers can play by themselves for hours, or be needy and bored, requiring your constant attention to keep them entertained. It's good for a mom to have a repertoire of tricks for days when nothing seems to keep a toddler busy for long.

One homemade craft that fits the bill is modeling clay you make from scratch. The ingredients are always on hand, and unlike the commercial products, your child can be involved in the process from the get-go. He can dump the ingredients into the saucepan, he can choose the colors, and he gets the satisfaction that comes from kneading the still-warm dough as it comes out of the pan.

Give it a Squeeze

There is something quite irresistible about homemade modeling clay. Teens and adults will not be able to walk past a table with the colorful dough without giving it a squeeze or two. Arthritic grandparents enjoy the feel of the fresh, warm dough on their achy hands, so make it when grandparents come for a visit and invite them to play with your toddler. Don't be surprised if playdate parents and grandparents swamp you with requests for this recipe.

As for color, the best results are obtained with a good quality icing color gel or paste, available in better crafts or baking goods stores. The supermarket stuff is watery and the colors don't run true. The investment in icing colors is worth your while, since it is very concentrated and lasts for a long time. The white icing color, which gives you a very true white, is always a hit. It's amazing how pleasing plain white modeling clay can be to a toddler. They can make eggs, hens, bones, sheep, beds, pillows, and many other items with the white dough.

Edible and Safe

Homemade modeling clay is edible and safe. Just don't try to store it for too long, since it does become moldy with time--a great excuse to make a new batch!

Homemade Modeling Clay


1 cup flour

1/4 cup salt

2 Tablespoons cream of tartar

Icing color-enough to obtain a pleasing color

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup water

Here's how:

1) Mix the flour, salt, and cream of tartar in a medium sized pot

2) Add water, icing color, and oil

3) Stir over medium heat for about five minutes.

4) When the mixture forms a rough ball in the center of the pot, turn off the stove, and scrape the dough onto your plastic tablecloth covered table. When cool enough to handle, knead it several times.

5) Store the dough in an airtight container or Ziploc bag and keep it in your fridge.