Make up a batch of this amazing-smelling gingerbread play dough as a fun sensory activity for your kids over Christmas break…then gift another batch to friends!
Christmas is THIS week! Can you believe it? If your kids are anything like mine, they can hardly contain their excitement!
We are on break from school all week, so I knew I needed to have some fun activities planned to help keep the kids occupied until Santa comes to town. We’ll be hosting a Polar Express party for some neigborhood friends, baking up a storm, playing LOTS of games, watching movies, and who knows what else.
Need an idea for a fun and festive activity that will keep the kids busy for hours?
Make gingerbread playdough!
My kids (especially my preschooler) LOVE play dough. We’ve been making our favorite homemade play dough recipe for years, and I recently adapted it to create a gingerbread scented dough.
Since we made this dough last week, my kids have been “making” gingerbread cookies almost every day. They roll out their play dough, go to town with cookie cutters, put them on a cookie sheet, and “bake” them in the cupboard.
I love it! They can feel like they’re making cookies every day, but I don’t have to bake them or figure out what to do with dozens upon dozens of actual cookies.
Mom for the win!
Need more reasons to make some gingerbread play dough this week? I’ll give you FOUR:
- It smells amazing! It’s all your favorite Christmas smells: ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg…Mmmm. You won’t be able to stop smelling your hands!
- It only takes 5 minutes. Seriously. Start to finish. Kids can help dump and stir, too, so be sure to get them involved.
- You’ll get SO much mileage out of it. This dough lasts forever! As long as you store it in a zippered bag and squeeze the extra air out, it will still be good as new 6 months later. Think of all the time you’ll get back while your kids play with the play dough you spent 5 minutes making.
- It makes a great little homemade gift! Gift it to your own kids (stocking stuffers, anyone?) or make some for friends from school or in your neighborhood. This year, we made some to mail to some of our cousins who live far away. It’s always a hit!
Here’s the recipe!
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable Oil
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- Food coloring (4-5 drops)*
- In a medium saucepan whisk together dry ingredients.
- Next mix in the water, oil, and orange extract and stir until a thick batter is formed.
- Cook the mixture over low/medium heat until a thick dough forms.
- Turn out onto parchment paper (or a solid surface countertop) and knead until smooth.
Spices: The types and amounts of spices are totally flexible. If you don't have cloves or nutmeg on hand, try allspice, or just add some extra cinnamon and ginger. It will smell amazing either way, and I guarantee the kids won't notice!
Food coloring: You don't have to use food coloring at all. The spices will make the dough brown all on their own. If you want a deeper brown, add a drop of green, a drop of red, and a few drops of yellow. I added the food coloring to the water before I mixed everything else in so that I could see the color I was creating. Once you have a brown you like, add everything else and cook!
Ideas for a gingerbread play dough invitation to play:
Honestly, I just handed my kids the play dough and their imaginations did the rest, but if your kids need a little nudge to get them started, try one of these ideas:
- Give them some supplies to make their own pretend bakery. Think cookie sheets, cookie cutters, spatulas, etc. Invite them to make Christmas “cookies” to share.
- Give them some accessories for creating extra fun gingerbread men…like buttons, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, etc.
- Try playing with textures by stamping the play dough with other Christmassy things…pinecones, pine branches, oranges, candy canes, bows, etc. Just don’t use anything that would be sad to have playdough permanently be embedded in.
Want to gift some gingerbread play dough?
When I’m gifting play dough, I like to put it in a mason jar or plastic container, and tie a bow with an attached cookie cutter. You could also include other accessories, like googly eyes or buttons to inspire kids to create their own gingerbread men.
And just for fun, I made a little label that you can print and use if you’re gifting some play dough this year. I just taped it to the lid of the jar before I screwed the ring on top. Simple!
You can download the labels by clicking the link below:
However you choose to play with this play dough, I hope you have a very merry holiday season!
Want more Christmas activities for kids? Try these!