Natural Dye Activities For Kids: Playdough!

Natural Dye Activities For Kids: Playdough!

Today I'm writing from my parent's house on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria; a more than ideal place to wait out the upcoming weeks (or months) of isolation. We have ample space, nature and love to help us through these unstable times, and I'm thankful for that. These methods are adapted from my mum's recipe book from the 80s. She used recipes similar to these to create handmade fingerpaint, playdough and bubbles for my brother and I when we were young. I've experimented and made some changes so that you can use 100% natural, edible colours from plants. This is a great way to make use of food waste like onion skins, or old vegies that you're going to turf. The consistency of these paints will be different from synthetic paints, so experiment with the thickness to see what you like best (your kid probably won't care as long as they get to make a mess with their hands!)

I can imagine there are some terrified/excited parents who are anxious about what weeks on end with the kids at home might look like. Thankfully there is so much inspiration out here on the world wide web to help you keep everyone happy and sane. This playdough is super easy and super fun. Use household objects like bottle tops, potato mashers and spatulas to make different squishy shapes. I hope you all enjoy some time creating together (tag me on Instagram @studiotinta_ so I can see what you make!) Some grown-up appropriate natural ink ideas coming soon. 

Stay healthy and look after yourselves,

Katie x


Dye materials: beetroot, black beans, rosehip tea, berries (blueberries, blackberries, elderberries), purple cabbage, black tea, onion skins, pomegranate rinds, turmeric

1 cup of plain flour 

2 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 cup of fine salt/table salt

1 cup of natural dye

Extra flour for kneading


1. Boil a good handful of your chose plant material with 2-3 cups of water. Cook down until you have just 1 cup of liquid left in the pot. Strain into a measuring cup and let cool. If you are using turmeric or tea you don't need to cook the solution, just add 1-2 tsp of turmeric or 1-2 tea bags to 1 cup of hot water in a cup or bowl. 

2. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. 

3. Add your 1 cup of cooled dye solution and mix until smooth. You'll notice that you may need to add some extra flour and knead so it becomes firmer. 

4. Pour a generous amount of flour on your clean bench or large chopping board and pour the mixture on top. Use your hands to knead the mixture until it is the firm consistency of playdough. Continue adding flour until you reach your desired firmness. 

5. Repeat this process for each colour. Play around with pH by adding bicarb soda. For example, purple cabbage with just cream of tartar (acidic) makes a fuschia, but when you add bicarb soda the solution is more alkaline and the result is purple instead. 

5. Start playing! Store in the fridge to extend life. Just leave it at air temperature prior to use so it's not too cold for little hands. 

Have fun and get messy!