dirt play dough recipe spring craft ideas preschool toddler

Dirt Play Dough Recipe

This dirt play dough recipe is the perfect go-to for when your kids want to play in the dirt, but you don’t want to have to clean it up! Bonus points: you can have them help for a great kitchen lesson.

My aunt recently told me about a batch of play dough she once made when short on ingredients at our summer cabin. She resorted to using coffee grinds — which immediately had me thinking ‘Dirt!’

My kids LOVE to play in the dirt. And I’m known to encourage it. But sometimes, you just don’t want that level of clean up. So what better go-to to have on hand than a batch of dirt play dough!

This play dough is quick to make — from rounding up ingredients until play time is less than 30 minutes — and works great with any food colouring.

dirt playdough doh homemade easy simple fun spring textured play sensory

Also, this is a great recipe for doubling (or more!) and storing if you’re looking to make big batches for gifts, rainy days, etc.

The coffee grinds do give the play dough a distinct smell, though they are small enough it doesn’t impact the texture. I added some brown food colouring to complete the effect. My kids immediately recognized it as dirt and started driving their dump trucks across the table.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • coffee grinds (whatever you have from the morning brew)
  1. Mix your dry ingredients together: flour, salt, and cream of tartar.

  2. Mix your wet ingredients together: water, coffee grinds, food colouring, and oil.

  3. Gradually mix the two groups together in a saucepan over medium heat. The dough might appear runny at first, but will start to firm up fairly quickly.

  4. Sprinkle some flour on the counter, and if you’re going to use food colouring, break out the rubber gloves.

  5. Take the pot off the heat when the dough starts to firm up just enough that it’s not runny. Give it a good stir, then as soon as it’s sticky enough, take it out of the pot. Place it on your lightly floured surface.

  6. Knead the dough until it feels like play dough. Store in an air-tight container.

That’s it! Here are a few more simple craft ideas you might enjoy!

Six Spring Craft Ideas

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