8 Ways to Make the Best Playdough for your Construction Theme


Make the best playdough for your construction theme sensory activities and learning centers. Find directions to make brown, gray, and dirty playdough with many fun mix-in ideas to add interesting textures.

Are you looking for some construction theme activities or some fresh playdough ideas? Maybe you just want an opportunity to play in the dirt.  I have the best playdough ideas to help you out.

Best construction site playdough ideas.

Here are some interesting DIY playdough ideas that will be great additions to your construction theme, building theme, or garden theme activities.

8 ways to make the best playdough.

Start with The Basic Playdough Recipe

To make all of these varieties of dirty, sandy, gritty playdough, I began with my favorite quick playdough recipe.  Now, let me show you what I added to the basic playdough recipe to create the perfect dough for any construction zone.

Make Playdough with Soil

I have enjoyed working in the soil for as long as I can remember.  When I was little I used to love helping my parents plant their huge garden.  So, it was no surprise that I really enjoyed mixing soil into my playdough.

For my first two batches of playdough, I used the quick playdough recipe without any coloring.  As I mixed the ingredients together on the stovetop, I added some organic potting soil to the mixture.  I’m telling you….soil…in a pan…on the stovetop….This took “playing in the dirt” to a whole new level!

***Be sure to use organic soil!  You do NOT want any chemical fertilizers in your playdough.

Add organic soil to your playdough for the best construction playdough.

It seemed to take a little bit longer for the soil mixture to form a ball, but it did come together to form a nice dough.  The color of this one reminds me of cookies and cream ice cream.

It’s kind of fun to experiment with different types of soil to get different textures and colors.  The playdough above is made with an organic potting soil while the playdough below was made with an organic coconut fiber potting mix.

Adding organic soil to your best playdough gives you interesting textures.

If you want, you can just make a plain batch of playdough and let your kids knead in the soil.  They will have a blast!

Add Sand to Your Playdough

In addition to soil, it’s fun to mix sand into playdough.  I used craft sand which had pretty fine grains.  Next time I will experiment with different types of sand to create different colors and more grit in the dough.

Add sand to your best playdough for your construction activities.

You can even ask parents to bring back a small bag of sand from vacation. You can compare the difference in the sand from different locations as you mix them into playdough.

How to Make Brown Playdough

I wanted to make brown playdough, but found that I didn’t have any brown food coloring.  No problem!  To make a beautiful chocolate brown color, mix red, yellow, and blue food coloring in a 5-5-1 ratio.  That means use 5 drops of red and 5 drops of yellow for every single drop of blue food coloring.  I mixed the food coloring into the water before adding it to the rest of the mixture.

If you are making a full recipe of the quick playdough, add 15 red, 15 yellow, and 3 blue drops.  This should give you a nice rich brown, and you can add more coloring if you desire.

Adding food coloring to make a nice rich brown best playdough recipe.

You can also try to use brown tempera paint to color your playdough.  I used tempera to create a lighter brown in one of the batches pictured below.  It created kind of a pinky color for me and I didn’t like it very much.  I’m sure that the color will differ by the kind and color of brown tempera that you use.  Let me know if you have any luck with this.

I added some potting soil to create the darker brown ball in the above picture.  It was the perfect addition to these construction-themed math mats and a construction-themed invitation to play.

Add brown tempera paint to the best playdough recipe for your construction themed playdough.

Gray Playdough

Tempera paint did work well, however, to create gray playdough.  I used a drop or two of black paint to make this batch.

Make gray part of your colors for your best playdough construction activity.

Additional Playdough Mix-in Ideas

Here is the playdough that I created with brown tempera paint.  I was going for a tan color but got a pinky, peachy color instead.  Aquarium gravel mixed in created an interesting texture.

Add aquarium gravel to your best playdough.

You can mix all kinds of materials into your construction-themed playdough.  Just be careful that the materials don’t have sharp edges or won’t give your kids splinters.

Here are some additional ideas for mix-in materials:

  • pea gravel
  • mulch
  • rubber mulch
  • decomposed granite
  • little shells
  • brown seed beads

Do you have any additional material ideas?  What is the best playdough that you have ever made?  Please share in the comments below.

Have fun playing in the dirt!

Construction Activities in the Store

Looking for more construction theme activities?  Check out the following resources in my store: