Playdough is a food-based modelling compound that can be made into whatever shapes you desire. It is similar to plasticine or other craft clays, although it's softer and made from different ingredients. Store-bought playdough can be expensive and smelly, and it has a tendency to dry out much quicker than playdough made at home. Making your own, however, allows you to choose the colours and scents you desire, and is a great activity that can be done with the help of your children. It is so easy to make and takes very little time and effort.
Combine the flour, salt and cream of tartar in a large bowl. Stir until combined.
Make a hole in the centre of the mixture. Add the water and vegetable oil. Stir until a dough forms.
Place the dough on a non-stick surface, or floured breadboard. Knead dough for 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth.
Divide the dough into as many segments as you want. Roll each segment into a ball. This allows you to dye each piece a separate colour or allocate them to different people.
Add a few drops of your chosen food colouring. Knead through the dough until you have the desired shade. If the dough becomes too runny or soft, add a little more plain flour.
Add a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil. Peppermint oil is a popular choice for fresh-smelling playdough. Knead this through. Let sit for a couple of minutes and then create anything that comes to mind.
For extra fun, add glitter to the end product and knead it through. You may have everyone add their own favourite essential oil to their piece of playdough after you have divided the batch. Or you may add one scent to the overall batch of playdough before dividing it up. You can bake final playdough designs so they can be ornaments or other decorations. Once you have made something, place it on parchment paper on a baking tray. Place in the oven on low heat and then when they have cooked and cooled, paint them. Many common household tools make playdough play fun. Use cookie cutters, Popsicle sticks, rolling pin, cookie stamps, plastic knives and forks, plastic or kid's scissors, large frosting or icing tips, potato masher, and garlic press or pasta press with attachments. The ideas are endless.
Keep playdough away from pets and very young children. It smells like food, and essentially is food, but it is very salty and can be harmful to them if ingested. This playdough will keep for about one week. Cover with cling film and store in an airtight container when not using it. Remember that homemade playdough is food and doesn't contain preservatives like the commercial kind, so it will eventually spoil and smell. Properly dispose all "raw" homemade playdough in the trash after one week (playdough that has not been baked as an ornament or other decoration). Use playdough on non-stick and washable surfaces only. Keep playdough away from carpeting. If it gets into carpet, let it dry completely and brush it up or vacuum it. Do not try washing it out with water as coloured playdough will stain the carpet.