Squishy and Moldable Cloud Dough

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play dough play

Cloud Dough! 

Have you heard of it?

play dough play

Me either, and I thought I’ve heard of most everything arts+little kids related. Karen at Flight of Whimsy introduced me to the recipe, and as soon as I learned about it I knew my  3 year old would love it. The consistency of the dough is lovely to feel and hold. It can be powdery like flour one moment, and then moldable like damp sand the next. This brought HOURS of fun to my home, and maybe it’ll do the same for yours…

play dough playWe started off with 4 cups of Flour and 1/2 cup of Oil. The original recipe is an 8:1 ratio. I would have enjoyed having the full 8 cups worth, but I didn’t want to deplete my flour reserves, just in case.

Don’t worry about writing all this down. There’s a printable recipe at the end of this post!

play dough playN took the mountain-making and oil mixing job very seriously. We mixed it with our hands for about 5 minutes until the dough held together when we squeezed it. We could still see some oil lumps in the dough, but it didn’t have an adverse effect on the material. The original recipe called for baby oil, but canola worked beautifully for us. However, Karen did mention the lovely smell of the baby oil, so we added a healthy dose of lavender oil drops (found at our health food store) to scent the dough. Heavenly!

play dough playI find it fascinating to sit back and observe how my kids explore new-to-them materials. The first thing N made was a wall. A really strong wall.

play dough playThen she crafted the dough into a bakery and soup cafe. These silicone molds are wondrous for activities like this.

play dough playShe enjoyed picking up and squeezing small handfuls of dough. The texture was phenomenal.

Play Dough Play

play dough playThe next day we brought it back out and shared the dough with some friends. And this is where I wished I had made the full 8-cup recipe. Hoarders!! There was so much scrambling for all the dough scraps, and I found myself patrolling more than I like to. So, if you’re making a batch for more than one child, 8 cups of flour + 1 cup of oil may be the way to go.

5.0 from 4 reviews

Cloud Dough
Author: 
Recipe type: Dough + Sensory
 
The consistency of this dough is lovely to feel and hold. It can be powdery like flour one moment, and then moldable like damp sand the next. This brought HOURS of fun to my home, and maybe it’ll do the same for yours…
Ingredients
  • 8 cups flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • Essential oil such as lavender or grapefruit (optional)
Instructions
  1. Scoop and pour the flour into the center of a large tub.
  2. Create a crater in the middle of the flour.
  3. Pour the oil into the crater.
  4. Gently mix it all together.
  5. Enjoy mixing and learning about the properties of the dough as it is, or add small silicone bowls, spoons, or measuring cups to make small structures, hills, or pretend cupcakes.
Notes
The original recipe is an 8:1 ratio and we started off with half the recipe (4 cups of Flour and ½ cup of oil) because I didn’t want to deplete my flour reserves, just in case. Turns out that this was such a hit and a full batch would have been equally wonderful, especially after our neighborhood friends wanted to come over and play with us.

 

If you’re looking for more sensory-dough ideas, here’s a few more to keep you busy:

Rainbow Play Dough

Flubber Gak Slime Exploration

Vinegar and Baking Soda

Flour and Water

Flour and Chalk

What’s your favorite dough or flour-based play recipe?

This post is shared on Science Sparks, It’s Playtime, TGIF

Comments

    • rachelle says

      Amy~ With the cost of rice flour, I can see why you’re asking! I bet it would work. You could test it with 1 cup flour: 1/8 cup oil. But your question makes me want to give it a try. If you can wait, I’ll let you know!!
      ~Rachelle

      • rachelle says

        Amy! I tried it today with rice flour, and it worked! The main difference is that the texture of the rice flour dough is grittier, so I’m not sure how much kids will enjoy playing with it. Will test that soon!

  1. says

    We’ll have to try this, I’ve seen it around the blogging world but didn’t realize it would be so easy to make! I wonder if the texture is similar to Moon Dough? I’ve recently had the opportunity to play with some of that and the texture was so interesting I couldn’t stop touching it!
    Thanks for sharing!
    ~Aleacia

  2. says

    We made this, too, after Karen posted it! We’ve had a lot of fun with it, but it is messy. I’m hoping to post about it next week, too. It’s pretty cool stuff! :)

    • rachelle says

      Messy, true, but I found that if it’s well-contained or used outside, it’s not too much of a problem. Look forward to reading about your experience with it, Ayn!

  3. says

    This looks like so much fun! I bed my little one would find it lot’s of fun and KNOW my big kids (one who is big on sensory stuff) would absolutely love it. Thanks for the great idea.

    • rachelle says

      Both of my kids enjoyed it, and hopefully you’ll have the same experience. Plus, it’s so easy to make that you almost can’t go wrong! enjoy.

      • MW says

        Big plus of making it with cooking oil vs baby oil was that when my dog snuck in and wanted to help “clean” the floor a little, I let him :)

    • rachelle says

      I picked those up at a Japanese dollar store called Daiso, but I’ve seen something similar at cooking stores like Sur la Table.

  4. Pippa says

    Hi, I loved this idea and tried it with my 3-year-old. We both had a lot of fun. I used baby oil, which smelt lovely, but found that the mixture was still pretty stocky at the 1:8 ratio. We added more flour and ended up more like 1:12 to get a texture like the Moon Sand (so it didn’t stick in the molds).

  5. MW says

    Cloud dough saves the day! No school and a cold morning – needed something to entertain and my son is having a ball. Thanks!

  6. MW says

    A question – my son was asking for colored cloud dough. Have you ever mixed your flour and chalk experiment with this one and made colored dough? Or found another way to add color?

    • rachelle says

      I haven’t tried this, and think it could be worth experimenting with. Powdered tempera paint might be a good bet, but I’d be interested in trying liquid watercolors despite the fact that water and oil don’t mix. It would be interesting to see what would happen.

      • sue scribner says

        i’ve just come across this article, and we have used cloud dough with our preschoolers and our school agers-everyone loves it (except the cleaning staff, i’m sure). i did try to color it red for valentine’s day, using liquid water color, but i wasn’t very happy with the results. the color distributed very unevenly, with some very dark bits, but mostly very pale. i tried coloring only a small amount, just in case!

    • wendy says

      I decorate cakes and makencandynso I had powder food colornon had. Itnworks great. We now have brown burgundey yellow green purple and pink. I just cut the recipe into quarters. 2 cups flour 1/4 cup oil. I mixed the Color into the flour then added the oil. Kids love it. Good luck and have fun.

    • rachelle says

      Hi Angie,
      I think a previous poster suggested using coconut oil for the longest shelf life, but I can’t say how it would work in the dough itself. I stored ours in a big ziploc bag, and hope it’ll store for a little while. Time will tell!!
      Rachelle

      • Jona says

        Rachelle,

        Did it store for very long? I was reading through the comments to find out. I have a 16 month old and sometimes her plans and my plans are different. I would hate for that to be the case and to lose all the cloud dough.

        • rachelle says

          Hi Jona,
          I used ours about a month later and it was fine. I can’t say much beyond that because we made a mess of it, but I should really do some testing on the shelf life of it. You can expect it to last as long as oil will last once exposed to air. The oil will get that rancid smell and then it’s time to pitch it. I hate wasting things too, but since it’s just oil and flour, it may be worth giving it a go. I’d love to hear what your 16 month old thinks of it.
          Rachelle ;)

        • rachelle says

          Follow-up!! We just pulled out a bag of cloud dough that we stored for 6-months (and it hadn’t been used in between) — and it smelled great.

  7. Karenda says

    The cloud dough is awesome. I’ve been trying to find a nice dough for some time that is similar to moon sand – this is as close as I’ve found. My kids 4 & 2 had a lot of fun. Thanks so much for sharing all your great ideas and activities.

  8. says

    I made some of this for my preschoolers and they played for hours! I did a lesson on animal tracks. The children used their plastic animals to make tracks in the dough. Once they were done they wanted to keep playing so I let them and they wouldn’t stop :-) Clean up was a breeze. Thanks for sharing.

    • Rachelle says

      Oh, what a sweet idea, Darlene. I love hearing all these stories about how long this dough engages children. I’ve had a little feedback that clean-up was messy, but it wasn’t my experience either. 

  9. Adiuguid says

    Love the idea!  Doing winter theme the next two weeks with my 2′s… how much do you recommend I make for 5 kids at a time at the sensory bin?

  10. says

    We did this in the week and J was convinced it was snow – so much that it is now called warm snow by him. Popping over from the Best Ideas for kids 2011

    • Rachelle says

      Hi Cerys, Warm Snow would have also been a good name for this dough. I LOVE that — J may have a future in branding!!

  11. Debbie says

     we used baby oil and it smells great! The boys made little rocks then bulldozed them out to make roads it was great! 

    • Rachelle says

      Awesome, Debbie! Thanks for your comment — it’s great to know that our projects are actually working and I love to hear about boys bulldozing the cloud dough. yay.

  12. Wrfoxie says

    My 5 year old is LOVING the cloud dough.  I used baby oil and it smells divine.  She has played with it everyday for a week.  I have been storing it in a ziploc and it still looks and smells good.  I thunk I will give it another week before I throw it out and let her make a new batch!

    • Rachelle says

      I love getting notes like yours!! Thanks for making me smile. I’ll have to try it with baby oil next time – I’ve heard so many good things about it. Enjoy, enjoy!!

  13. Susan says

    We’ve just discovered that you can actually make building blocks out of cloud dough and build an igloo with it. Who knew flour and oil could be so versatile? Thanks for the idea.

  14. Sarah says

    Thanks for this great post! It was only about two minutes of set up… and about 45 minutes of non-stop involved play! My 3 and 5 year-old kids LOVED it.

    So easy! I’ll definitely make it again. So glad I found your wonderful website. I’ll definitely be back. :)

  15. Melanie says

    Needed something to keep 4 kids ages 4 – 9 busy without fighting. This totally did the trick! All four were completely engaged and happily playing together for over an hour! I have been asked daily to get the dough back out! Thanks so much for the idea!

    • rachelle says

      That’s amazing! There’s something very soothing and grounding about cloud dough and other sensory experiences. Very cool to hear that it appealed to such a wide age range.

    • rachelle says

      Thanks for the kind words, Crystal! My daughter’s preschool teacher saw this post, and in all his years of teaching had never seen cloud dough before. I wonder how this recipe gained a revival? I brought the project to her school, and it was amazing to see how well it went over in a large group setting. The kids were mesmerized.

  16. Kathryn says

    Thank you thank you thank you!!! This post introduced me to your blog which I now subscribe to, and I love it. I have finally gotten around to making this, and my kids are loving it! My 4year old daughter just said “This is better than play dough,” then, ” This is keeping us REALLY busy!” Again, thank you!

    • rachelle says

      Hi Kathryn,
      I love your 4-year old’s feedback with me!! Aside from sharing here, are you writing these things down? Thanks for the nice comment!
      Rachelle

  17. Katie says

    Thank you!! My kids love this! I added some corn starch and a little more oil and it came out really moldable and smooth! Thanks for sharing!

    • rachelle says

      you’re welcome! and i love hearing about the additions to the recipe. we’ll have to try that next time we make a batch of cloud dough!

  18. penny says

    I came across this looking for some fine motor skills for my 5 year old who has had some fine motor development delay. I can’t thank you enough for how much he loves it….what I loved so much was once he made it he Saud mommy we need my trucks and graders to play with this stuff!

    • rachelle says

      Hi Penny! This is the best kind of comment. I especially love hearing that this dough was helpful to your son. I made a batch of this at my daughter’s preschool and there was one child who was mesmerized by the dough and could not leave the table. The teacher told me that he had sensory issues and couldn’t get near the sand box, and that the cloud dough was the first thing sand-like material that he expressed so much glee over. Thank you so much for taking time to send me this note.

  19. says

    Just wanna ask how long can I use the 8:1 mixture before it spoils..I am surprised about this cloud dough and really excited to try it with my grandchildren..We’ll have lots of fun!

    • rachelle says

      Hi Carolyn,
      It lasts about as long as oil lasts before spoiling. Just give it a sniff and see if it’s still fresh. You might also want to refresh it sooner than that if a lot of germy hands are handling it :)
      Rachelle

  20. says

    Thanks for posting this! My mother stumbled across it on Facebook and shared it with me. When I did my grocery shopping the next day, I bought a cheap 500ml bottle of baby oil specifically to try it, and told my son (who’ll be 4 at the end of this month) that we’d make it the following day, which is today. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten to buy extra flour, as he was with me when I shopped, whereas he’s usually at preschool on shopping day, and he was trying to be in charge of my shopping list, which made me forget several things I had to buy! When we stopped at the supermarket again that evening, I forgot the flour AGAIN! However, I had a kilo bag of self-raising flour in the pantry, and figured the added raising agents wouldn’t affect the end result. Fortunately for me, I DID remember to pop into the dollar shop and buy a cheap 2.5 litre container to make and store it in.
    So, fast forward to this morning! We made it with 4 cups of flour and half a cup of baby oil. It worked perfectly and he loved it. I have quite an aversion to play-doh because it always ends up on the floor and carpet, which is something I can’t deal with, so this is an excellent alternative! Thanks so much for posting it in the first place!

    Our next adventure is going to involve making Moon Dough. I haven’t seen the recipe yet, although I’ve got it open in a separate window just waiting to be read, and I’m sure its going to be just as much fun. Before I do that, though, I think I’ll make a further 4 cups of the cloud dough with the remaining flour and baby oil whilst he’s having his afternoon nap!

  21. Gramma Janice 4 says

    Sure wish I had some of these ideas about 40 years ago. I now have teen grandchildren! This might be fun for the teen who babysits… Also posted on my FB page for FB friends who have little ones.

    • rachelle says

      This would all depend on your child and personal comfort level. I introduced this to children in a preschool who were older than three. And in my home, my youngest was almost two when she first used it.

  22. Natalie says

    I have just made this with my girls. We put sweet orange oil in ours and in smells divine. They are currently making a jolly good mess of the kitchen floor but loving it and son am I. One question: does it keep?

    • rachelle says

      I bet this smells amazing with sweet orange oil! Store it in an airtight container or bag and it will keep for a couple months, maybe longer. If the oil smells like it’s going bad, it’s time to make a new batch.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Chestnut Grove’s Pumpkin Spice Playdough recipe.  Want more of a sensorial experience?  Try TinkerLab’s Cloud Dough among other sensorial dough-like recipes.  Want to introduce measuring to your child?  Teach [...]

  2. [...] a blast. I used baby oil since I have a ton of it it's kind of a mess but easily swept/vacuumed. How to Make Cloud Dough | TinkerLab — Creative Experiments for Kids 5.0 from 1 reviews Print Cloud Dough Author: Rachelle Recipe type: Dough + Sensory The [...]

  3. […] Welcome to day three of Creative Geekery’s first ever school vacation day camp! Time flies when you are having fun. If you missed day 1 or 2 of camp, do not worry! You can still join in the fun and catch up on those posts here: Day 1 and Day 2. As I have said before, everyone is welcome to join and I hope you will invite other friends who might be interested as well. School’s out so it is TIME FOR FUN! Here is what I think would be super cool for today… Something to do: Stop motion animation using iStopMotion! I used to use this piece of software back in my teaching days in my digital multimedia class. The things the kids came up with ere amazing! When you go to the site, scroll down a bit for some inspiration. You can create something simple (think a paper fish swimming around a piece of paper) or something super fancy (build cities out of legos)! (NOTE: The full version for your computer is expensive but you can get a 5 day trial. It is much more reasonable priced for the iPhone/iPod/iPad family.) For the little guys: Cloud dough. […]

  4. […] Cloud Dough: This moldable, yet crumbly, dough is made from flour and oil. That’s it. It’s so simple and I’ve found that even if it spills all over my table and hardwood floors, it’s easy to clean up. If you add a little bit of lavender oil to the dough it will also leave your hands with a yummy smell. […]

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