Inside: This easy-to-follow apple playdough recipe will have your kids begging for more sensory playtime this fall! Scroll down to printables, step-by-step instructions, and how-to video.
Apple playdough is a great hands-on activity that combines the fun of sensory play with the educational aspect of learning about apples.
I first came upon apple flavor extract when looking for a way to bake a keto apple pie. You see when you follow a keto lifestyle, you don’t eat sugar, and one apple has a staggering 20 grams of sugar. Yikes! However, zucchini has less than 5 grams of sugar, and when baked, it has a similar consistency to apples. Yay! All I had to do was add apple flavor extract to zucchini, and voila, I had a perfect apple pie without all the carbs.
And, of course, if you have apple flavor extract in the house, you start thinking of other uses for it. Trying to make apple playdough for my kids was a natural next step! It turned out to be a really fun and satisfying experiment!
Why Make an Apple Playdough
In the first place, by adding apple flavor, we engage multiple senses simultaneously.
Yep, when your kids get their hands on this play dough, they are not only experiencing its soft and malleable texture but also the sweet scent of fresh apples. So amazing! By stimulating different senses at once (i.e., touch, smell, sight, etc.), this activity provides a more immersive experience, making the playtime more enjoyable and memorable.
And don’t worry about your kids tasting it; all the ingredients in this recipe are food-grade quality and harmless. I think this play dough tastes a bit salty (I tried :), so I don’t think your kids would be tempted to eat a lot of it.
Furthermore, this humble apple playdough is a great activity to combine with our educational apple printables, especially parts of an apple and/or picture books about apples.
Understanding the science of apples lays the foundation for deeper learning. With this knowledge, children can confidently mold and shape their playdough into apple-like forms, knowing exactly which features to include.
As kids play, you can ask questions to reinforce their understanding of the parts of an apple, such as “Can you show me where the core would be?” or “What does the shape of an apple feel like?”
And finally, manipulating the playdough and shaping it into apples is a great hand-strengthening activity. By strengthening the muscles in their hands, kids will be better at writing and zipping up their coats.
To sum up, by using playdough, children can explore their creativity and imagination, strengthen their fine motor skills, and stimulate their senses while reinforcing what they have learned about the parts of an apple. Win-win-win!
How to Make Apple Playdough
To get started with Apple playdough, you will need a few simple ingredients. Add real apple leaves and sticks to enhance the playdough experience and make mini playdough apples.
What you need
1 cup flour (we used gluten-free)
1/2 cup salt
1 Tablespoon oil
1/2 Tablespoon cream of tartar
1 cup of boiling water
What to do
In a bowl or pot, combine the flour, salt, oil, and cream of tartar.
Add food coloring and apple flavor.
Boil one cup of water, add it to the mixture, and stir well.
Keep stirring until it’s no longer sticky.
It might appear too sticky at first, but don’t be tempted to add more flour. If you just keep stirring it, the consistency will change. If you wish, you could knead it with your hands, but I find that the mixture is too hot and sticky at this point to be an enjoyable process.
Once the dough pulls away from the walls and sticks together in a ball, it’s finished. It should feel soft, smooth, squishy, and perhaps a tiny bit tacky, like fresh bread dough.
You might get salty and oily residue on hands, but remember it’s all food-grade ingredients, so there is absolutely no harm. And it wouldn’t be sticky in an annoying way.
Time to play!
Encourage children to sculpt their playdough into apple shapes, paying attention to the different parts of the fruit. They can use their fingers or utensils to create the stems and leaves.
We thought it would be fun to add apple leaves to our playdough apples to imitate the real thing. If you don’t have access to apple trees, you can cut paper leaves and make stems from craft materials.
Store the play dough in an airtight container or zip bag for up to 3 months.
Ready to dive into the creative and tactile world of Apple playdough? Let’s grab our ingredients and get started!