If you want a super-easy, hands-on activity for your preschooler (or maybe second grader), may I highly suggest Easy Cloud Dough? It is exactly like it sounds. Easy to make and easy to use in sensory play activities. It’s also gluten-free! I have a confession, though. While I totally found a version of this in Asia Citro’s ridiculously amazing book 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids, I managed a similar recipe WAAAAAY back in the day when Toodle was two. Back then, I didn’t even know “sensory play” was a thing. I just knew moms who were more in the know than I was were pinning that stuff like crazy. And so I pinned it like crazy, too, and then finally made a batch of my own.
AND THEN this easy cloud dough stuff made its way into our local library for a science activity night. EXCEPT THIS ONE HAD GLITTER. And also conditioner that smelled like coconuts. But also glitter. It was like a winter wonderland of delight somewhere on a tropical island. My senses could make neither heads nor tails of the situation. And I know I should immensely dislike glitter. But I don’t. I don’t immensely dislike it at all. I kind of love it. And so do the girls.
No, I reserve my immense disliking for the following: the grammatically incorrect phrase “have went,” mushrooms that aren’t on an actual pizza, and the fact that Tony and Ziva are clearly living together in Paris with Tali but can’t tell anyone because of safety concerns. To keep their spirits up, they spritzer their apartment in glitter every now and then. Obvi. For Tali’s sake.
Also, unlike carrots, I am convinced mushrooms have spirits. And I don’t trust them. Send prayers and let me live my best life.
But this Gluten-Free Easy Cloud Dough? Well, I am all in it and so are the girls. It’s literally two, maybe three, ingredients. And just a few more ingredients if you want extended play opportunities and don’t mind glitter (pictures in this post do not contain conditioner or glitter, just the basic recipe).
Okay, okay. I don’t mind glitter. But you know what does absolutely make it on my immensely dislike list? CLAY DOH. That stuff is everywhere. And unlike glitter, I don’t feel like I’m in a fairy wonderland while I play with it and then clean it up. Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother CLEARLY brought herself some glitter and bestowed it on Cinderella, not crumbly, dried up clay dough that got stuck in her vacuum cleaner and the kitchen floor grout. And I don’t think Cinderella asked FG to separate out the glitter pieces the way people I know ask me to separate the colors and put them back in their respective color-coded containers. “Hey, Toodle and Twinkle, c’mere. I’m going to show you how to put toothpaste back in the tube.”
Fortunately, Gluten-Free Easy Cloud Dough is much more user-friendly and low maintenance. Also, I’m going to be referring to FG whenever I possibly can now in any reasonable manner in any conversation. Ever. Period. Ever.
I feel like FG would appreciate this recipe. See what I just did there? Anyway, all you need is baking soda and liquid watercolors (or food coloring, but beware the staining). Then, you can also add in a tablespoon or two of conditioner in any scent your energy bank desires, and glitter if it isn’t on your immensely dislike list.
Also, if you are wondering why I go to the trouble of saying “immensely dislike” instead of the H word that rhymes with “ate,” it’s because Mom was having none of that action growing up. Spiriteds, I actually dropped a literal F-bomb and got in less trouble than I did for the H word. “Hate is not for people, Morgan. You hear? And just so there isn’t confusion, you might as well not even use it at all. How about ‘immensely dislike’ instead?” Um, okay. She was kind of smart, that one.
I suppose in real life, I didn’t need an actual FG. I sort of already had one. Mom. Although, to be completely transparent, she would never have done any of this Pinterest-y stuff. “Hey, Morgan, wanna eat a Hot Pocket and sit on the couch and watch Murphy Brown?” YAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!
P.S. – If you are into this sensory play business, then you might also enjoy Sensory Play Activities for Children – Loose Parts, Sensory Play Ideas for Preschoolers (the flagship post for this particular recipe), and Rainbow Rice Recipe – How to Dye Rice for Sensory Play!
Gluten-Free Easy Cloud Dough
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Total Time: 5 mins
- Yield: 2 cups 1x
- 2 cups baking soda per color
- Several drops liquid watercolors until desired color is reached
- Approximately 1/4 cup water (I add it about 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached)
- 2+ tablespoons conditioner, optional
- Sprinkle of glitter, optional
- Add liquid watercolors to baking soda in a large bowl and mix until color is even. Pour in water about a tablespoon at a time (1/4 cup water is 4 tablespoons). Add more if mix is still to dry. Stop if desired consistency is reached prior to using all of the 1/4 cup.
- Stir in conditioner, if using, and then add a sprinkle or two of glitter, if desired.
- Store in container, jar, or baggie for a few weeks and add a sprinkle of water before each play session, if desired.
This is a purposely flexible recipe rather than an exact science of measures. We often add more or less conditioner or water to get different textures and moulding options. If you use conditioner, the mixture will be stickier, which provides lots of shaping options. But it may be better stored in a container rather than a baggie as it will stick to the sides and corners.