DIY Modeling Dough Keeps Kids Busy

Kids will love this DIY modeling dough, and you'll love how easy it is to make

By Nicole Hickoff, publisher of Macaroni Kid Williamsport, Pa. July 22, 2021

Does your kid LOVE squishing modeling dough?  Do you hate when it dries out? Well, I have a great and easy recipe to make your own homemade putty ... a.k.a modeling dough!  

My kids love this stuff! This can keep them busy for well over an hour and allows me to tidy up the house or sip some coffee. I love that it is easy to make and super soft ... plus, if you add scent to it with a natural essential oil, it smells wonderful! 

All you need to make homemade modeling dough is a few simple ingredients and about 15 minutes.  

Homemade Modeling Dough


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 4 teaspoons cream of tartar (find it in the spice aisle!)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup oil

Optional Ingredients: 

  • Color. Try turmeric, beet juice, or food coloring. (If using color, have your kids play with the dough over a surface that's easy to clean.)
  • Essential oils (lavender, cinnamon, or a smell your kids love!)

Getty Images via Canva


  1. Place flour, salt, and cream of tartar in a stand mixing bowl. Mix for 15 seconds.  
  2. Add oil to boiling water (we heated the water in the microwave till boiling).
  3. Slowly add the water and oil to the dry ingredients. Keep the stand mixer on low to medium speed as you add the water. Be sure to add slowly!  
  4. The mixture should start to look like dough. If it appears to be too watery, you may need to add it to a pot, place it on low heat, and stir continuously.
  5. Add any color or oil and mix in.
  6. Once you add all the water (slowly), remove the dough from the bowl and knead it a few times. Then let it cool and place it in a plastic baggie or airtight container. It is best to store in the fridge between uses.  

Getty Images via Canva

You can make this recipe on the stovetop as well. Instead of 2 cups of boiling water, you will use 2 cups of cold water. Place the dry ingredients in a medium pot on the stove and then add the cold water and oil—heat on low to medium heat and stir continuously (best to use a wooden spoon). You may feel that your recipe is failing, but just keep on stirring!

Nicole Hickoff is the publisher of Macaroni Kid Williamsport, Pa.