DIY: Taste-Safe, Naturally Colored Chocolate Playdough

Posted on 08/27/19 by Amanda in Early Childhood


Playdough is the perfect invitation to play. It's soft. It's moldable. It can be anything you want it to be. It can be mortar for bricks, food for an animal, a home for people, or dirt for a plant. There is no limit to the possibilities.

We make all of our playdough at TMS because, honestly, if we didn't, we wouldn't have funds for much else. Each classroom makes a new batch every week or two, and typically more often in the illness laden winter season. Playdough ends up on the ground, in toys, and in the crevices of shoes, so homemade playdough it is.

Most of our teachers use a simple no-cook recipe of playdough with just 5 ingredients. This playdough is a particular favorite because of the smell and rich color. Playdough is already a sensory experience, but with cocoa powder - watch out! It's so fun to see the kids realize that the playdough has a smell - a good smell! The scent also means that there are no artificial dyes in this playdough and it is taste-safe.

The rich colors makes it perfect for exploration with a variety of themes and play explorations. Here's a few ways we've set up this playdough:

  • With rocks and construction trucks for a Construction theme
  • With found objects, wood samples, and foliage for a Bear/Forest theme
  • With cotton ball marshmallows and to-go beverage cups as a holiday play extension with The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
  • With pipe cleaners, beads, and bottle caps for a flower creation invitation during a Spring unit

Chocolate Playdough

1 1/2 cups flour (can substitute gluten free flour for kids with gluten sensitivities)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cream of tartar
4 tablespoons oil
2 cups boiling water

  • Mix all dry ingredients.
  • Add oil and boiling water.
  • Mix until a dough forms, knead to fully combine.
  • Add extra flour if needed to reach desired consistency
  • Store in plastic bag or airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

This recipe is pretty kid friendly (after that boiling water cools down). Have your kids help knead the playdough. Not only is it a good workout, but they'll feel proud of their role in creating their own play. Use your imagination with different objects, and don't forget to look in your recycling bin! That's where the treasure hides, in case you didn't know.

Have an idea for a sensory set up with this delicious smelling playdough? Share on social media and tag us @TheMusicSettlement on Facebook and @themusicsettlementkids on Instagram.

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