This easy, no-cook playdough recipe only calls for three ingredients and it smells like a dreamy, cool orange creamsicle. It’s the best sensory dough for summertime.
Easy No-Cook Playdough Recipe that Smells like an Orange Creamsicle
Recently I found myself at the local dollar store stocking up on all the ingredients I would need to create some fun sensory doughs for my kids. It’s no secret around here that I have an affinity for playdough and all the ways I can use it in the preschool classroom, so I found myself buying loads of hair conditioner, hair gel, corn starch, baking soda, shaving cream, and so on.
With summer coming on, I wanted to have a full supply closet ready for all the sensory dough making days ahead of us.
From playdough invitations to play to sensory bins, summer is going to be loaded with healthy sensory input.
What is Sensory Dough?
Sensory dough consists of a range of dough-like substances that offer children sensory input. It can be loose and crumbly like a cloud dough used as a base in a sensory bin. Or it can be firm and malleable like molding clay.
Sensory doughs vary in texture. They might have a fragrance. They can be taste-safe. Some even fizzle and pop.
Sensory play is critical to a preschooler’s brain development since it helps build neuro connections. [source]
Also, Try These OtherHomemade Playdough Recipes and Accessories
The Best No-Cook Playdough Recipe
If you’re looking for a traditional playdough recipe (and one that doesn’t even call for cream of tartar), then my famous no-cook playdough without cream of tartar is, as the name states, absolutely perfect.
But if you’re looking for something new, then this three-ingredient, no-cook playdough recipe is a must-try.
Somewhere between oobleck and the playdough recipe you grew up with, this orange creamsicle playdough is silky smooth and smells heavenly. Just like an orange creamsicle bar, to be exact.
Now, doesn’t that sound like summer?
Ingredients for No-Cook Playdough Recipe
This playdough recipe is so easy because it only calls for three ingredients.
- vanilla scented hair conditioner
- corn starch
- orange kool-aid
The measurements don’t even have to be clear cut like traditional playdough recipes. In fact, one of the things that makes this recipe so fun is that you can tweak the recipe based on your needs. I’ll talk about that more below.
How to Make Orange Creamsicle Playdough for Summer
The directions for making this playdough is crazy simple. Like “chicken dump” recipes for the crockpot, you just pour everything into a single bowl and then mix and knead. I like to start with the cornstarch, though, because cornstarch can be really messy.
Add 2 cups of cornstarch to a medium mixing bowl. Sprinkle in two packets of kool-aid. Use orange Kool-aid to make your playdough smell like a creamsicle, but really, you can use any combination of hair conditioner and Kool-aid you would like. If you mix Kool-aid flavors, be sure to stick to flavors that are the same color so that you don’t end up with an icky brown.
Finally, add one cup of vanilla scented hair conditioner to the bowl and carefully mix. Since the corn starch can be a powdery mess, stir slowly until the dough begins to form. After that, I prefer to use my hands to knead the dough together.
Now, if you want, you can amp up the color by using a little food coloring. You can also take the scent of the playdough up a notch by adding some essential oils. Or, you can even add some orange zest!
It’s up to you, but I love it just with the original three ingredients.
What to Do If Your Playdough Comes out Dry or Crumbly
This is just one more thing that makes this such an easy no-cook playdough recipe! If your dough turns out crumbly or dry, just add a little more conditioner, a little bit at a time.
Start by adding just a tablespoon of conditioner at a time and mix the dough well between each addition. You may find you like a more crumbly texture, or you may find that you like a dough that can really stretch.
Because this sensory dough uses corn starch, it’s not going to feel like a traditional homemade playdough recipe would. It’s going to feel stretchy and maybe even runny (but not sticky) like oobleck.
What to Do if Your Playdough Comes Out Sticky
Honestly, this playdough doesn’t get sticky, but it can be runny. If that is the case, then just add a little bit more cornstarch until you reach the desired consistency.
I like to turn my sensory playdough out on the kitchen counter and knead a tablespoon of cornstarch in before adding another. I knead it just like I do bread. Just like adding more conditioner if your playdough turns out too crumbly, you won’t know the final consistency until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
Ways to Play with Homemade Playdough
Now comes the fun part! Invite your preschooler to play with this lovely orange creamsicle playdough! My little boys couldn’t help but squish the dough and then hold it up to their noses and draw in a big whiff. Of course my daughter, who is nine now, couldn’t help but get in some playdough action, either.
It smells like your favorite ice cream, Mom!
Yes, it does smell like orange sherbet. It’s seriously heavenly!
Playdough Invitations to Play
Like any other homemade playdough recipe, this one can be used in any variety of playdough invitations to play. Check them out below. Just click the image to get some ideas:
Playdough Learning Activities for Preschoolers
Playing with playdough has it’s own merit, but it is also my favorite tool for teaching formal academics.
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.