Smelly Playdough and Keeping Kids Busy in the Kitchen

by Heidi @ Food Doodles on

First off, I need to tell you I feel a little awkward writing this post.  Yes, I have a 4 year old and 2 year old and a 1 month old, but I certainly do NOT have all the answers or tricks.  I’m not perfect and sometimes I put a movie on while I’m rushing to throw dinner together with a stack of dishes already in the sink and an upset baby on my hip.  That’s just how it is, and everyone has those nights at some point.

In this post are just a few things that work for me and my kids, but of course these ideas wont work for everyone, I just think they’re worth sharing.  Please leave me a comment below telling me how old your kids are and what works for you, whether it’s just getting everything done during nap time or some kind of fun craft or activity that your kids love and can do on their own while you cook.

Kids, even starting when they’re really small can help so much, and just being in the kitchen they’re learning from you!  I didn’t realize it until I started cooking on my own how much I learned from my mom.  Even for little ones, just starting with pouring ingredients that you’ve already measured into a bowl or pot or getting ingredients for you from the fridge or cupboards, or stirring things together, like the dry ingredients for granola bars, just for a few examples.  There are a ton of ways to include your kids and that’s the best way to keep them occupied while you’re in the kitchen.  I do feel guilty for not including my kids more, but even just letting them help a little bit(by getting things from the fridge or cupboard or putting things away) makes them feel so useful!

For me, having something to keep baby happy while I’m in the kitchen is the most important now that my 4 year old and 2 year old have each other to play with while I’m busy doing other things.  My 1 month old sleeps amazingly well during the day, but so far only if she’s being held.  Of course all babies are different, but for me it’s so important to have something that she can be close to me and sleep in while I work in the kitchen.   Whether it’s a wrap like a Moby wrap or some kind of carrier or sling, etc, I really recommend it.  I could not live without my Moby – food would just not get made, and the kitchen would be a complete disaster, not to mention the rest of the house.

Lastly, my absolute favorite thing for keeping my older kids busy while I need to get things done in the kitchen is playdough because they can be right there in the kitchen with me.  I’m sure there must be a million recipes out there for homemade playdough, but I’ll post the recipe we use anyways.  My kids love making “cookies” or “bread” or “pizza” or whatever else with playdough.  You’d be surprised at their creativity 🙂 You don’t need any special toys to play with it either, as you can see in the picture we use all kinds of things, from plastic toddler cutlery, rolling pins, chopsticks, wooden popsicle sticks, cookie cutters, even a potato masher.

If you’re new to my blog, I will tell you, this is the only time you’ll ever see kool-aid in a recipe here, haha.  Even if my hubby disagrees, I don’t think that stuff is fit for anything other than making awesome smelling playdough 😀

I know this post is getting long, but this is my last tip for this post.  If they’re not entertained for long enough with some playdough, they can always do their playdough dishes when they’re done.  Pull up a chair or stool to the sink, throw their playdough tools in some warm soapy water and roll up their sleeves 🙂

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Eliana Teague June 12, 2013 at

We tried this today. We didn’t have any Kool-Aid, so I used some Mio drink mix, but I couldn’t get the color very bright. I added some Jello powder and that seemed to work OK.

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2 Heather May 29, 2012 at

I use to LOVE making homemade playdough with my mom and little sister – but I have never made smelly playdough before, I love this!!!

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3 Jabari Turner May 28, 2012 at

These are natural facts of every society. I think, you’re enjoying funny days at your home. You’re also lucky and happy. I wish your success every where with your kids. Thanks for your nice post

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4 Eat good 4 life May 27, 2012 at

I am pining this to my DIY board to make for the kids. I hate the chemical versions out there! I never ever buy that junk.

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5 mellissa @ ibreatheimhungry May 26, 2012 at

Hey Heidi, thanks for this! I’m going to try making some with my son, I think he’ll get a kick out of it! I love the colors and since I hate the smell of real play doh I think the Kool-aid scented ones will be awesome! I have never bought kool-aid either but I remember the commercials from when i was a kid! 🙂 It’s nice that your two oldest can play together – that’s my biggest regret about only having one child, that he doesn’t have any siblings to play with. And unfortunately for my productivity, that makes me his primary playmate during the day. But I love it because soon enough he won’t want to hang out with his boring mom anymore – he’ll be all grown up and wanting to hang out with his friends! Enjoy them, I’m a little jealous of your newest one since I miss having a baby around – so much fun! (though I definitely don’t miss the diapers!) 😀

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6 Sonia! The Healthy Foodie May 26, 2012 at

OMG, I’d forgotten all about home made playdough. I remember making TONS of this stuff as a kid, for my mom used to work in a kindergarten, so she’s make a lot for the kids there. Never used kool-aid to color and “aromatize” it though. What a brilliant idea. I’m tempted to whip up a batch just to give it a try!

Of course, I might end up spending a few hours playing with the thing… 😉

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7 Heidi @ Food Doodles May 28, 2012 at

I know what you mean! I can’t resist, every time I make playdough I just have to play with it a little bit too! Even my hubby can’t resist! 😀

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