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.
Here are some interesting DIY playdough ideas that will be great additions to your construction theme, building theme, or garden theme activities.
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 pefect 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 stove top, 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.
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.
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.
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 play dough.
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.
You can also try to used 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 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.
Tempera paint did work well, however, to create gray playdough. I used a drop or two of black paint to make this batch.
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.
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
- 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!
Looking for more construction theme activities? Check out the following resources in my store: