November 16, 2012

Play Dough Turkey that Little Kids Can Make

Play Dough Turkey

Play dough turkey was made with play dough, construction paper, feathers, wiggle eyes, rings, beans, and one craft stick.  

The play dough was nontoxic (see recipe below), which is a good thing. Calvin, like all one year olds, put it in his mouth, but it didn't stay in there very long.  He made a funny face, shook his head, and spit it out real fast.  The recipe makes great play dough, but it has a salty taste that most kids don't like.

The Recipe:


  •  5 cups water

  •  2 1/2 cups salt

  •  2 tbsp cream of tartar

  •  orange food coloring (or red + yellow)

  •  8 tbsp vegetable oil

  •  5 cups all-purpose flour

  •  2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon


  • mix water, salt, cream of tartar, and food coloring in a bowl

  • cook on medium heat, stirring frequently until hot

  • add oil and cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

  • stir in flour, one cup at a time, mixing well until play dough is no longer sticky

  • let dough cool on the counter

  • knead

  • store in airtight container at room temperature

  • keeps for months

I found the recipe on Jean Van't Hul's blog, The Artful Parent.  Thanks, Jean.  

Procedure to Make Turkey Heads:

  • Calvin and I made three turkeys: one for Mommy and Daddy, one for Grandma and Grandpa, and one for Nana and Poppa.  Before we began, I cut and pasted heads, beaks, and wattles for each turkey's head.

  • Calvin's job was to glue wiggle eyes on the turkey heads.  He loved his job.  Most of his heads had four or more eyes.

Procedure to Make Turkey Bodies:

  • My job was to mix up a batch of play dough following the recipe above. 

  • I also found some little items to stick onto the turkey bodies for texture: beans, plastic rings, and plastic disks.

  • Calvin and I formed the dough into three balls about 4" in diameter. Then Calvin pressed the little items into the dough. 

  • I used a spoon to hollow the center of each ball, working from the bottom. If the dough is too thick, it won't dry in the center. 

  • Calvin's next job was to stick feathers into one end of the turkey bodies. At first all he wanted to do was watch the feathers float to the floor.  So we dropped and floated the feathers as long as he wanted.  Then he was ready to stick them into the turkey bodies.  

  • When Calvin had stuck feathers into each turkey body, I inserted a craft stick and glued the turkey's head on.

  • And then the turkeys were done. Now they are ready and waiting for Thanksgiving Day.

Calvin loved this activity. When we were finished, it was bath time. Papa supervised the bath while I cleaned up. As soon as Calvin had his PJs on, he ran over to his art table fully expecting to continue working on the turkeys. Needless to say, he was very disappointed to see everything cleaned up. 

Pretty soon he'll be old enough to help with clean up, which will enable him to understand when art is over for the day. I'll be glad. I hate disappointing him. Maybe it's a Nana thing.

Extend the activity:

Mary Ann Kohl has two excellent books filled with wonderful ideas about what to do with clay, dough, and play dough.  There are many recipes too.

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Have a comment or a suggestion.  I'd love to hear from you.

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