This engaging and therapeutic activity is excellent for memory care residents and is also suitable for those with vision impairments.
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This engaging and therapeutic activity is excellent for memory care residents and is also suitable for those with vision impairments.

Play Dough Recipe

  • 2 cups of salt
  • 5 cups of flour
  • 2 cups of warm water
  • Optional: food coloring

Mix these ingredients together and knead well. 

The resulting dough has a slightly grainy texture compared to ordinary playdough. 

Cover the dough with plastic wrap when you're not using it, as it tends to dry out quickly and is best when used on the same day.


Begin by rolling the dough into snakes, which is loads of fun.

Once everyone gets the hang of it, make small pots by forming round balls and then using your thumbs and fingers to shape them.

You can also create various heart shapes.

My residents were engaged in this activity for an entire hour, which is quite remarkable, considering they often lose interest quickly.

When the shapes are ready, bake them at 150°C / 300°F for approximately 1½ hours until dry.

After they're cooked and cooled, paint them with acrylic paint to give them a vibrant appearance. They'll look fantastic!


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Comments   Post a Comment

Vanessa 30th Jun 2020 Care Worker
I use Allison's soft play dough recipe and also add essential oils and colour match colours to oils (yellow to lemon, peppermint or spearmint to green etc) and the residents in my dementia unit love it, their imaginations go into overdrive. I love your idea Marina and am definitely going to try it.
Susan 30th Jun 2020 Activity Director
Hi Vanessa
Thanks for sharing this information
Allison‘s recipe does sound heavenly
Color adds a nice touch too
Thanks again
Debbie 2nd Apr 2019 Activity Director
How much dough does it make ! Enough for 3 or 4 people or is this recipe just for person?
Solange 3rd Apr 2019 Diversional Therapist
Hi Debbie. The recipe is enough for 3 to 4 people.
Emma 9th Jan 2018 Engagement Coordinator
I gave some playdough to a Resident & his wife so they could do something whilst they were together (I was using it as a hand manipulation exercise really)..when he started manipulating the dough, rolling it in to a smooth ball then flattening it and then smoothing it out with a knife. The wife likened it to window putty & her husband was preparing the "putty" to replace a window with.
She was overjoyed that he was doing something of his own accord (as he is quite far along his Dementia Journey)
Solange 10th Jan 2018 Diversional Therapist
Hi Emma, well done! It gives one so much satisfaction seeing a client totally focused on a meaninful activity of his own.
Kathleen 21st Jun 2016 Lifestyle Coordinator
Thank you Marina, I have another recipe for play dough which calls for baby oil rather than the usual cooking oil, it keeps for much longer and smell nicer. I like your method of cooking the pots and then painting them, thank you for posting.
Ann-Maree 28th Jun 2016 Recreation Activity Officer
Hi Kathleen,
what is the recipe for the play dough with baby oil?
Kathleen 4th Jul 2016 Lifestyle Coordinator
Basically replace the cooking oil with baby oil, it smells nicer and keeps longer too.
Laureen 19th Nov 2015 Personal care assistant
A wonderful idea, lots of good suggestions. This activity will give pleasure with tactile sensory. Biscuit shaped cutters can also be used.
allison 8th Sep 2015 Dementia Team Manager (RN)
I use "Soft as cloud dough" with my residents. It has a lovely feeling to it and I also add essential oils especially lavender for relaxation.
Try it:
1 part conditioner
2 parts corn flour/corn starch
Food colouring (optional)
essential oils (optional)
Mix together and it feels beautiful, I even play with it for ages
Jenni 18th Mar 2017 Diversional Therapist
Allison,when you say 1 part conditioner,how much ?
Anne 10th Jul 2021 Retired
Allison, I'd like to try making your craft dough.
What do you mean by "conditioner," and is there a difference using flour or cornstarch?
thanks, Anne
Talita 11th Jul 2021
Hi Jenni and Anne! Just to clarify this recipe - conditioner refers to hair conditioner. If you use 1 cup of conditioner than you will use 2 cups of corn starch. Anne as you are in the US, use corn starch. Jenni, the equivalent is corn flour in Australia. It's a little confusing. Have fune!

Sharon 5th Sep 2014 RAO
I add some essential oil to the dough, lavender or something pleasing to the nose, and food colouring if you do not want to paint afterwards. Our Physio was very impressed as the dough can be used by all and is good exercise for the hands. This activity has a very calming affect on behaviours.
Astrid 27th Jun 2013 Lifestyle Co-ordinator
I also have tried play dough with success. We have also used it with more able people in a game where players have to make an object unknown to other players out of the dough and they have to guess what it is. Of course clues can be offered too.I would make sure you are using a fresh batch each time as mould will grow on the play dough if left for some time (even wrapped up in plastic wrap in a sealed container.).
talita 17th Jun 2013
Thank you Marina!
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