Playdough is definitely a finite material.  Even store-bought dough doesn’t last forever.  And, while I love to make playdough for my class and my boys at home (here is a link to my favorite playdough recipe), it very quickly becomes dried out and over-used.  So, here are a few ways to send that old playdough out with a bang:

1.  Explore colors.  If you have colored playdough, consider mixing the colors to make new colors.  This is especially interesting with primary color playdough (red, blue, yellow).  Granted, our playdough is typically mottled from the mixtures of color anyway, but if you have some that is “wearing out” yet still in good color, try mixing it and doing a little lesson on coloration.

2.  Make a gift!  My homemade playdough works especially well for this.  When our playdough is reaching the end of its usefulness, we like to create sculptures to give to others.  My older son has made pencil holders for desks, statues of beloved pets, and a lovely collection of homemade (and quite heavy) flowers.  Letting them sit out to dry for several days is a great way to get them to “set”; placing them in a low-heat oven can speed up that process as well.

3.  Turn it into a science exploration lesson.  My kids at preschool LOVE to take old playdough and make the ultimate sculpture – a volcano, complete with a “crater” in the top.  Once our playdough volcano is hardened, we put baking soda down in the crater and then pour vinegar into the hole to make the “lava”.  Tint the vinegar with red washable watercolor to make it really realistic!

4.  Of course, kids aren’t the only ones who can find a good way to recycle old playdough.  Use old playdough in the bottom of pots to arrange silk and live florals. 

5.  If for nothing else, use old playdough to help strengthen your child’s hand muscles and work on fine motor skills.  Have them roll the old playdough into balls between his or her thumb and forefinger.  And, use blunt-ended scissors for playdough cutting.  Kids LOVE to cut playdough into itty-bitty pieces, and it is excellent exercise for the hand muscles!