Salt Dough Recipe and Olive Preschool

Every morning after chore time and before I tackle school work with the older children I spend some time with our youngest children.  We call this preschool and our little ones enjoy the focused time with mom and getting to choose a fun activity each day.  Sometimes they have a whole week of activities selected ahead of time.

One of their favorite projects is sculpting or modeling.  We use self hardening clay, Sculpey clay, Play-Doh or salt dough.   (We’ve even made peanut butter play dough which can lead to a stomach ache for any child who hasn’t learned self-discipline.)  Salt dough is my preference for the littles.  It’s not as messy as Play-Doh, easier for little hands to mold than Sculpey and they are able to paint their creations after baking.  We usually paint the day after we sculpt.

If the some of the 5-8 crowd are available they like to guide the little ones through the process of making the dough.

Salt Dough Recipe 

Carter (8) and Sadie (6) help Colby (3) and Nicholas (1) make some salt dough


3 cups flour

1 cup water

1 cup salt

2 tsp oil

Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix. Squeeze and pat it into a ball.

Now the fun begins.  I give each child a mat and lump of dough.  The mat defines that child’s space, keeps their dough separate from that of the other children and also keeps the mess off of the table (this is especially helpful with types of clay that leave a residue).  When we’re done the mats get washed in the sink and there isn’t much to wipe off of the table.

The children have free reign on what they wish to shape.  The younger ones enjoy making balls and snakes and Colby (4) can make one mean teddy bear.   If the mid-range kids (5-8 years) are available we’ll get some more elaborate designs and the younger kids love copying the creativity of the older ones.

When everyone is finished (or ‘preschool’ time is over) we bake the finished pieces at 350 for 20 minutes.  We wrap any unused salt dough in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge until the next time the kids want to use it.

The next day the kids don their paint shirts, get out the acrylic paint and paint their baked salt dough creations.  Painting is serious business in our home and requires utmost concentration.

Painting does get a little messy but mess is half the fun when it comes to preschoolers so we use washable paint, laugh a lot (especially when a whole paint jar drops upside down on the floor) and try to remember to have a camera nearby.

Nicholas (1)

Psst, these preschool years pass way too quickly, be sure to take some time away from your “more important” responsibilities and enjoy it!

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11 Responses to Salt Dough Recipe and Olive Preschool
  1. Roan
    October 26, 2010 | 8:15 am

    Hi Kimberly,
    Thanks for the reminder of salt dough. We are on fall break, but I plan to do that next week.
    What are your older children doing during this time?
    What other preschool activities do you do with your children. I have numerous things they can do alone, but I have forgotten to plan things for them to do with me!
    Thanks for the super ideas.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Great questions Roan.

    The bigger children are working on either finishing chores (if they’re a little slow) or starting some of their independent work (handwriting, Greek, math).

    I’m hoping to post more of our ideas, but many of the things we do are very simple (like reading, playing London Bridge, having jumping contests, window crayons, using scissors, etc.). I hope to post some of our more recent activities (we’re working on Christmas gifts) soon, but don’t ever hold your breath waiting on me, I’m trying to savor every moment with these kids that I can. 🙂


  2. Kimarie @ The Cardamom's Pod
    October 26, 2010 | 9:12 am

    I’m going to do this with the children THIS MORNING. Thanks for the recipe – I’d have to dig for one and I don’t think we’ve ever made salt dough. My kids LOVE to paint and I haven’t done it enough with them…


  3. Cheryl @ Treasures from a Shoebox
    October 27, 2010 | 10:22 am

    Now you’ve gone and made me feel like a bad mom. It isn’t the immediate mess that keeps me from dough projects, but rather what BECOMES of the finished product! I picture painted crumbs all over the house (small as it is) and the baby getting one in his mouth and…Do you hear that whine??? Okay, I’ll buy some water-based paint and we’ll make these this week. Thanks for admonishing me 🙂


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I don’t think that the mess is all that bad, but I do have big kids that help with the sweeping etc.

    Oh, and when I had all young children, I didn’t do messy stuff nearly as often. So smile, relax, hug your kids and enjoy!


  4. Jama
    October 27, 2010 | 10:36 am

    I have a suggestion for your preschool time. Are you familiar with Hap Palmer music? ( I think he was recording in the 70’s when I was in elementary school and still is today. I remember using his music on rainy days for PE. Grab a few beanbags, a hoola hoop, a broomstick, etc. and get ready to have lots of fun with your kids. Our favorites are Learning Basic Skills Vol 1 and 2. I may add some new ones soon. We had friends over last Fri. while their mom had an appt. and we did these with them. They loved it!


  5. Marla
    October 27, 2010 | 1:22 pm

    Neat idea!You do such a great job.blessings to you,Marla


  6. Erin
    October 27, 2010 | 8:00 pm

    I find the texture of the salt in the dough really rough and it bothers my hands. I came up with the solution several years ago-run the salt through a mill and it becomes like icing sugar. It still helps preserve the dough, but is a much smoother texture.


  7. Rebecca Burgener
    October 27, 2010 | 9:12 pm

    How long do the creations last?

    This sounds like great fun!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    When I was a child someone created a salt dough plaque for me. It lasted for many years, but I’m not sure if they used some type of sealant in the paint.

    We have some salt dough pieces that have lasted a couple of years. 🙂


  8. Rachel B
    October 28, 2010 | 12:27 pm

    Today is a rainy day here in Oregon and I remembered this post and thought it would be the perfect project to do with my 2 and 4 year old. That’s IF the cranky teething baby isn’t too disruptive! 🙂


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