Make Homemade Scented Play Dough

I love this play dough recipe because it come together quickly, and because even a toddler can help out with some of the steps. That means double the play: half the fun is in making it, and more fun is to follow once the play dough is complete.

The first part of the recipe is definitely a grown-up step, though. In a saucepan, combine the following:

1 cup water

1 cup flour

1/2 cup salt

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 tablespoon cream of tartar

Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. It will begin to stick together and pull away form the sides of the pan, and that’s when you know it’s ready. Knead a few times as the play dough cools down, adding a little extra flour as needed.

Once the play dough was cool enough for Veronika to handle, I divided it into two portions and set them down on wax paper in front of her. Now you can customize it, in terms of both scent and color! We made one portion that had a few drops of vanilla extract and red food coloring…

…and a second version that had almond extract and yellow food coloring. I was delighted to find that the recipe is incredibly forgiving, too. I accidentally spilled out way more almond extract than needed, and worried the dough would become sticky and unworkable. But with a little kneading, it was still just fine!

Veronika was involved in all these steps, first smelling the extracts, and then picking the colors. Then I invited her to get her hands right in there. “I’m getting red!” she said with delight, peeking down at her hands.

We’d already had so much fun, but now playtime could begin! Veronika quickly brought of lots of plastic toys, and delighted in seeing their footprints.

We decorated a play dough snowman, made play dough tea party cookies, and more.

You can store the play dough in an air-tight plastic bag so it doesn’t dry out between uses. That said, no sooner had I packed it away than Veronika was asking me to take it out again!

Pudding Cookies

Thanks to sneaky shortcuts like pre-made baking mix and instant pudding, these cookies come together in a flash. You still have to wait for them to cook, though!


  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup baking mix (such as Simple Mills pancake mix)
  • 1 (3-ounce) package instant vanilla pudding
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • White sugar
  1. Whisk together the flaxseed and water in a small bowl to make 1 vegan egg. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the baking mix, pudding mix, peanut butter, canola oil, and flaxseed egg. Stir in the chocolate chips and raisins.
  3. Shape the mixture into 18 balls and arrange on baking sheets. Fill the bottom of a small dish with sugar. Press the bottom of a wet glass into the sugar, then press down onto the cookies. This will definitely be a favorite step for kids helping out in the kitchen!
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes, until set.

Toddler Triangle

This musical idea (from the Toddler’s Busy Book) was one of those reminders that sometimes the best ideas are the simplest ones. It can be hard for Veronika to make beautiful pinging noises on our triangle instrument, because she always holds the metal of the triangle itself, which stops the vibration. But this at-home version is the perfect hack for making beautiful music!

Simply tie a length of colorful yarn to a three-inch long screw. (Note: You can use nails of the same length, too, but be sure to tape over the sharp end).

Now hold onto the yarn, and tap the first screw with a second one. Ping ping ping!

This brought instant delight to Veronika’s face. She even wanted to help her toys “play” the triangle, showing them how to make music on it just as I had shown her! This was the perfect way to make music on a rainy afternoon.