new for us friday: the pumpkin playdough flop

I’ll be the first to admit that we’ve had our fair share of flops over here, and this week we had another one of them.

It was messy. It was sticky. It was everywhere, and it did not fulfill my dream in any way, shape, or form.

It was homemade playdough.  Pumpkin. And it was disgusting.  But the kids loved it.

I have always–always!–wanted to make scented playdough, and I’m really not sure why. I’ve seen dozens of websites with pictures of happy kids and moms (or dads, but not many…) rockin’ the homemade playdough thing, that I thought it would be no problem at all for us to make a little pumpkin  playdough to celebrate the season.

This past summer, I bookmarked several sites that featured pumpkin playdough-fun which I came back to in the fall, all excited about and ready to try.  Well, this week, we tried it, and it just didn’t work for us. Boo-hoo.

So this week’s New For Us Friday is the pumpkin playdough F-L-O-P.

  • Pumpkin Playdough Flop: I’m not even going to point out the recipe I tried, since I’m sure it was something that I did–some ‘tweak’ of the recipe’–that caused it to flop.  (What I will do is share other pumpkin–or scented–playdough posts in case you’d like to give it a go yourself.)

Surely we will try again sometime this winter, after a bit more research on my part, to control the scented-playdough monster. . .

The kids and I had been talking about making scented playdough for quite some time, so when I asked Cora and Owen if they were up for making it, they were.

We all headed to the kitchen and followed the directions I had created, printed out, and placed in a plastic sleeve. At least I thought we followed them.

Owen and Cora measured and added.

They stirred and they folded.

I heated and stirred.

And we waited while it cooled.

And we waited and waited and waited and waited.

Cora pats the warm playdough, hoping it will cool off quickly.

After rest time, Owen and Cora watched their show and then ran to the counter, hoping that the playdough would have cooled so they could play with it.  It was still warm and sticky, so we  walked up to get Maddy and determined that it had to be cool by the time we returned.

It had cooled, all right, but it was sticky and nasty.

It stuck everywhere–on sleeves, on shirts, on the counter, and  on the floor. I was hesitant to let the kids at it, once they got their hands on the mess, Maddy, Owen, and Cora could have cared less.

They squished.  They squeezed. They flattened and scraped.  And although sticky playdough’s not my thing, I watched and waited and wondered who’d be the first to freak out and start screaming that their hands were itchy and sticky.  It was Owen.   And soon after, it was Cora.

And Maddy played for longer than I would have thought, enjoying the squish and stick and yuck.

She helped me scrape the pumpkin junk off of the counter as I vowed never to make playdough again for the rest of my life.  Or at least for another few weeks.

Like I said, I’m not sure what went wrong, and it wasn’t a total bust of an afternoon because the kids had a blast.  And the New For Us Friday part of it was that we’d never tried it before and we did and so what if it didn’t work perfectly–it’s a great lesson in picking back up and trying again another time.

Although I think that kids can also appreciate the ‘magic’ of making playdough, and there really are some awesome recipes out there, I haven’t found one yet that I love, love LOVE.

Here are some homemade recipes that–when I build up the strength and courage–I’ll try again.  Many are from super-talented experts in the field:

Many thanks to the friends above for their playdough posts, and if you have a fool-proof recipe you totally love, link back here or share it, please, please, puhlease!!




  1. katie says

    sounds like you needed more flour. at least that’s what i do when i make homemade play dough and it is a sticky, icky mess like that. just keep adding more flour till it’s not so sticky.

    • amy says

      Katie, I did–I added so much flour that it was almost laughable. I think I added too much pumpkin, but who really knows?
      I also used wheat flour, so maybe that messed everything up. (?)

  2. says

    alas it’s something that has flopped dramatically for us as well, so the next time it was made into pumpkin cookie dough and used as sticky play-dough then eaten.

    To get some nice smells we’ve tried vanilla, lemon and aniseed essences as well as collecting and adding heaps of herbs and flowers from the garden. it didn’t smell as strongly but was a lot of fun. :)

    • amy says

      THANK you, Renee!! So glad I’m not the only mom out there who has a tough time mastering the art of playdough-making!

      I love the idea of adding herbs and flowers from the garden–certainly will try this spring!!

  3. says

    Confession time Amy,

    I’m not sure that it was your fault– I think it was my recipe’s fault — especially if that’s the one you followed!!

    My pumpkin play dough doesn’t turn out right either — am wondering if it’s something to do with adding the pumpkin spice (don’t know why that would make any difference) but ours was so sticky and gross that after C was done making a mess with it (she loved it) I tossed the whole batch!! ; )
    The apple spice play kool aid play dough, made the same week, was MUCH better and lasted 2 months — go figure.

    pink and green mama,

    • amy says

      well, Marylea, my sweet friend, you’re off the hook. Although yours was among the bookmarked pumpkin-playdough posts, yours was not the one I tried that day! We did use canned pumpkin, though, which I thought for sure led to the playdough’s demise. . . I wonder how many moms will admit to tossing the whole batch after a messy afternoon! :*)

      Will put the apple spice on the list to try come January–for sure!


  4. says

    Hmmm. I’ve made regular ol’ homemade playdough before and it’s worked out great (although it FREAKS me out because of my sensory issues). Is there ACTUAL pumpkin mush in this recipe? I’m not sure what I think about that. It must be a one-time use sort of playdough then? Or do your refrigerate it? Or…what?

    • amy says

      Yes, actual pumpkin in this mush. From the can.

      It’s strange, I know–but so much of what we do as parents is strange, I’m over making judgements, especially when it comes to all these crazy things we do in the name of science, right in our very kitchen. Just know I’ll never chew gum again when I’m with you. Still feel bad about that day, my friends. :*)

  5. says

    i’m sorry it was a bust. first off, i so appreciate you posting this even though it was a bust. things just flop sometimes and it’s so frustrating as the “teacher” to have it bust so badly. i think i get more frustrated than the boys. so, thx for the honesty.
    second, i have used my wheat flour and it still works but makes it more grainy. the next time i make it i will for sure use white flour. when i made our pumpkin pie playdough i just made it like regular and then added a ton of pumpkin pie spice. i added so much that it smelled yummy but looked quite gross. we play with it and it worked but really it’s much closer to brown than orange. i loved our apple playdough and hope to try peppermint smelling playdough for christmas by adding peppermint extract.

  6. Carol says

    I’m a brand new follower of your site, but I’m impressed that you even attepted to make play-dough. Needless to say, it’s not something that’s on my to-do list ~ LOL!

    • amy says

      Carol–don’t be impressed! Not really sure why the flavored/ scented kind was something I wanted to try, to tell the truth, but it was!

      Glad you’re reading; thank you so very, very much, and best to you, my friend!


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