Written by Alice Zsembery

Ever pulled out the playdough only to find that the lid has been left off and it resembles a frisbee? Found your child trying to get their hands on some super glue or paint the bathroom in lipstick? Need some ideas for the grandparents’ day with the kids?


Here are my 5 quick and easy, super cheap, made-at-home-using-nothing-but-what’s-in-your-pantry play recipes that every parent and carer needs to have on hand!

  1. Bath Paints

For an awesomely easy painting session at bath time, simply squirt some shaving cream into a bowl and stir in a tiny drop of food colouring.

Bammo! You have yourself an easy bath paint that can (just as easily) be washed off the tiles at the end of bath time!


  1. Playdough

My all-time favourite playdough recipe comes from the NMAA cookbook; a classic staple in many Australian households of the 1980’s.

Mix together the following ingredients in a saucepan:

  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • food colouring


Cook on medium heat for 3-5 minutes stirring until dough comes together, cool slightly and knead to a smooth dough.

Be sure to store in an airtight container or zip lock bag.

(Hint: this also makes for a wonderfully cheap idea to put in kids’ birthday party bags)


  1. Edible Finger Paint

Got a child that likes to put everything in their mouth!

Simply mix a teeny drop of food colouring into some Greek yoghurt and you have yourself some edible finger paint. (Greek yoghurt is nice and thick so performs better than other yoghurts).

A perfect activity for the high chair when you just need them to sit still for a moment!

Remember you only need a minuscule drop of food dye to get a colour.


  1. Glue

Cornflour glue has been used for generations and, not only is it quick and easy, but it is perfect for those pre-school art projects.

Simply blend together 1 tbsp cornflour and 1tbsp water until smooth. Slowly pour in 1 cup of boiling water whilst stirring constantly to create a thin paste.


  1. Puffy Paint

As a child of the 80s and 90s, I am a lover of puffy paint. Like all good things (scrunchies and slap bands included), it seems to be coming back into fashion, so make sure you get in on the action!

All you need is:

  • 1 tbsp self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • little bit of water
  • drop of food colouring


Mix all ingredients to a relatively liquid consistency

Paint it onto paper and then put in microwave for 30 secs and it will puff up. Remember to allow it to cool before kids touch it as it comes out very hot.


And if you are looking for more play ideas, be sure to check out our resources here, including a simple and quick recipe for window paint.

Happy playing!


You may also like to read:

5 Top Sensory Experiences that can be Achieved within the Home

10 Play Ideas to Beat the Winter Blues!

Don’t eat the Playdough