Play dough color surprise and play dough Ice cream cones

Play dough color surprise and play dough Ice cream cones

This week, I am joining my fellow bloggers  Nurturestore, The Imagination Tree and Sun Hats and Wellie Boots for a fun week of play dough activities…

Making Play Dough

To prepare our play dough surprise, the pre-k children helped me whip up a batch of plain white play dough…

Each child participated in the process and we used the No Cook Play Dough recipe which can be found in the free Nurture Store Play Dough Ebook.  I love this ebook and use it as my go-to resource for making play dough all the time…

The recipe calls for salt, flour, oil, Cream of Tartar, and boiling hot water.  The children mixed up all the dry ingredients but I added the boiling hot water…

The children carefully mixed the water and oil into the dry ingredients until the play dough started to thicken up and cool just a bit…

Once most of the dry ingredients were mixed in with the water and oil, the children were invited to dump their play dough out on a floured surface and then invited to begin kneading the dough…

The children kneaded the dough until it was soft and smooth. We talked about the process and used words that described the process as we went along like measurements, cups, tablespoon, mixing, boiling, kneading, and so forth…

An important part of teaching cooking and math is introducing and using math or cooking words throughout the process.  As the children hear the words and use the words through their play, they will do a better job remembering and understanding the meaning of those words…

After the children had a chance to play with out homemade play dough for a bit, we collected it all and placed it in a baggie to save for the next day.  I had told the Pre-K children that we would be sharing the play dough with our entire class the next day and this is why we made such a large amount….

Preparing Play Dough Surprise

After the children went home, I separated the play dough into small balls. Enough balls of play dough so each child in my own class would have a ball of their own plus a few extra. I didn’t realize how much play dough we had made so I ended up with a ton of  play dough balls…

As you can see, I poked a hole in the middle of each play dough ball but not so the hole went all the way through the balls…

Then I placed several drops of Coloration Liquid Watercolor (which I purchased from Discount School Supply) inside the hole of each play dough ball. If you have never tried liquid watercolor, let me just say this is the BEST stuff ever for adding color to any type of art. sensory, or other creative process. The color comes off of hands easily and the color is very pretty and vibrant…

I realized later that I could have added even more color than I did  but this was a first try for me at this process so I only added a few drops of color…

After adding color to each play dough ball, I sealed up the tops of the balls with more play dough so the children couldn’t tell that there was color inside the play dough balls….

And then I gently placed each play dough ball inside a plastic bag for the night…


The next day as the children arrived at school, they found the play dough balls set out at a table along with ice cream cones…

Each child was invited to select a ball of play dough and encouraged to “soften up the ball a bit by squeezing it first”…

The children very quickly discovered that there was some color hidden inside their balls of play dough. I heard words like, “I got red!” or “I got green!”  The children jumped right in to see what other colors were inside the play dough balls…

The children loved finding their color surprises and I had hoped that the color would blend in with the play dough until the entire ball changed color.  But this is where I learned that I should have either added lots more color or made each ball a whole lot smaller!  Although I had hoped for better color results, the children didn’t care at all. They just wanted to keep on playing with the play dough balls…

For those who wanted more color, I simply added more Coloration Liquid Watercolor to their play dough and they mixed it more until the color spread throughout the play dough.  Remember, the coloration does not stain hands (and it did not stain out table). The color may look like it is going to stain, but the color came right off with one quick hand washing with a little soap and water…

The children used their play dough to make ice cream cones as part of our ongoing celebration of the Indianapolis 500 which I shared more about in in my previous two posts…

The children created their ice cream cones with the play dough and added pom pom cherries right on top!

A super fun day with lots of surprises…

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow On

Puffy Ice Cream Cones from Teach Preschool

Mystery Play Dough from The Seeds Network

Color Surprise Playdough from Play, Create, Explore


  • Laura (The SEEDS Network) Posted June 12, 2012 11:16 am

    That is so funny … WE made “mystery play dough” this week too – I just didn’t post the pics yet! We used food coloring – which does wash off, probably not as quickly as the liquid watercolor, though – will have to try that next time.

    Kids LOVED it – and it was great for their fine motor development that they had to kneed and squeeze and really work the play dough to get the color all through.

    We also had a child with a gluten allergy (and I didn’t have time to make homemade gluten-free play dough) – so I did the same thing with regular white play dough. I’ll have to post the pics – the homemade stuff is infinitely better, as the color spread much better and is softer. But, the regular white play dough mixed with the food color created a pretty marble effect. Fun activity!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted June 12, 2012 1:14 pm

      I hope you are planning to blog about this so I can link this post up to yours! It will be fun to see different tries at the same kind of idea. Let me know if you do!

      • Laura (The SEEDS Network) Posted June 12, 2012 1:56 pm

        Hi Deborah … yes I am planning to blog it … will do it sooner rather than later! 🙂

      • Laura (The SEEDS Network) Posted June 13, 2012 8:32 pm

        Hi Deborah … I got our pictures up for our “mystery play dough”! 🙂

      • Laura (The SEEDS Network) Posted June 13, 2012 8:33 pm
  • Amanda Posted June 12, 2012 11:56 am

    This looks like it was so much fun! I am so going to do this with my son. Thank you so much for the great idea! I’m sharing and pinning this so others can see too!

  • The fairy and the frog Posted June 12, 2012 12:19 pm

    This is gorgeous – I love the surprise and wonder on kids faces when something unusual happens. I also like the effect of the colour not being mixed in (a bit like raspberry ripple ice cream!) Think we’ll definitely have to try this at our house.

  • Allison Posted June 12, 2012 3:52 pm

    How fun! I love the surprise element!

  • Cathy @ Nurturestore Posted June 12, 2012 4:52 pm

    I’m so happy you’ve taken the Play Dough Pledge Deborah! It’s lovely to see the children involved in the making of the play dough as well as all the playing. Great multi-colour ice creams!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted June 12, 2012 10:42 pm

      You really got me thinking play dough this week! I am trying to come up with something to do with my Grandson tomorrow:) Kind of hard with a toddler:)

  • LaQuetha Posted June 13, 2012 6:15 pm

    I love the mystery play dough. I have made play dough with the class before but this would be some much fun. I have made pretend cones before I have never used real ones that could be really fun.

  • Ness @ One Perfect Day Posted June 14, 2012 6:26 am

    Another brilliant idea! What child wouldn’t adore this? I’m going to try this with my son for sure.

  • The Monko Posted June 16, 2012 4:18 pm

    Thats a brilliant idea. I’m going to try this with my son

  • asma Posted June 27, 2012 7:27 am

    Hi, I am doing my Certificate III in Children’s Services and I am struggling for ideas like this one to do for the children . I am not creative in introducing new ideas and play experiences that promote learning as well as play . Please can I request for ongoing support on this .Please guide me and send me the new ideas . I have assessments due on different developmental play for 2 to 6 years old.

  • Trudy Posted November 2, 2012 6:03 am

    Just a courtesy note to let you know I have pinned your “Play dough color surprise and ice cream cones” post to a pinterest board with a collection of learning resources to support learning through playing ice cream shops. You will find lesson ideas, learning activities and resources on my boards. You can view my boards at
    Warm Regards

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