If your kids are home for the year, you may be looking for something extra to keep them busy over the summer months. Play Dough is a fun and classic toy that children of all ages enjoy. Kids are not only able to mold and form the soft dough into endless creations, but they are also able to cut, smash and roll the dough. This makes Play Dough a great toy for sensory input. Retailers offer Play Dough in multiple colors, making possibilities for creativity and design endless.
Kids can enjoy creating food-like items such as pizza or tacos, or they can use the dough to make buildings or props for imaginative play. Although younger children age 2-5 years typically enjoy Play Dough the most, older children are able to enjoy it as well. It is not recommended for children under 2 years of age due to choking hazards.
Play Dough is a relatively inexpensive toy. Stores and online retailers offer a small tub of 4 ounces for under a dollar. You can also buy it in larger quantities to lower the cost.
If you’re looking for a fun alternative to Play Dough, there are many similar options on the market. Many of these options have similar characteristics to the classic Play Dough, such as being moldable but are made from a variety of different materials.
Table of Contents
- Kinetic Sand or Moon Sand
- Air-Dry Clay
- Stress Balls
- Modeling Beeswax
- Shaving Cream
- Silly Putty
- Baking Soda Dough
- Clean Mud
- Model Magic
- Super Wikki Stix
- Beach Sand
Floam is a soft, malleable alternative to Play Dough which is composed of tiny, sticky pieces of foam that you can mold into different shapes and sizes. Just like Play Dough, stores offer floam in various colors. While the floam pieces stick to each other, they do not stick to clothes or countertop surfaces as easily, making them easy to clean up.
Unlike Play Dough, floam never dries out. It is also lighter weight than Play Dough, making it easier for kids to build things high without them falling over or collapsing.
Similar age ranges use floam and Play Dough, but floam is not recommended for children under 3 years of age due to a choking hazard. It is also slightly more expensive than Play Dough, starting at $9 for an 8-pack of similarly sized containers.
Slime is a popular alternative to Play Dough that you can easily make at home. Slime feels stickier and slimier than Play Dough. You can also stretch, roll and smash it more easily than Play Dough.
Kids love being able to make slime at home from a few simple ingredients, such as shaving cream or Elmer’s glue. You can personalize it with different color options or add different decorations such as glitter to the mix.
Older kids from ages 5-12 typically use slime due to its sticky quality and choking hazard. However, younger kids are also able to use it given proper supervision. You can make slime inexpensively at home from common household ingredients. You can also purchase slime from the store starting at $3 for a 6-pack or buy a slime-making kit for between $10-$20.
Kinetic Sand or Moon Sand
Kinetic Sand and Moon Sand are moldable, sticky sands that kids can also enjoy in a similar way as Play Dough. Just like Play Dough, you can build Kinetic Sand and Moon Sand into various forms and shapes; However, due to the tiny pieces of sand, Moon Sand and Kinetic Sand are more likely to crumble and fall apart.
Kinetic Sand and Moon Sand tend to be a messier alternative to Play Dough, so parents should cover the playing surface prior to beginning or choose an outdoor space. Children under 3 years of age should not use Kinetic Sand or Moon Sand, especially without adult supervision.
Stores sell Kinetic Sand and Moon Sand in greater quantities than Play Dough. Buyers should expect to pay around $12 for 2 pounds of sand. Many kits also sell different toys and molds, such as sandcastle molds, making Kinetic or Moon Sand a pricier alternative to Play Dough.
Air-Dry Clay is extremely similar to Play Dough as you can mold it in the same way. However, unlike Play Dough, you can leave Air-Dry Clay out overnight to dry. As a result, the clay will keep its form so that kids can enjoy their creations for days to come.
Because of this, Air-Dry Clay is typically single-use and can not be reshaped after drying. The clay becomes hard and stiff once dried.
Air-Dry Clay tends to be more expensive than Play-Dough as it is made for a single-use. You can purchase a 2.5-pound container of clay starting at $5.49. It is also meant for older children, beginning at 6 years of age.
A stress ball is a small, squishy ball that you can squeeze, throw or bounce. Although it can not be molded like Play Dough, it can still offer sensory input for kids in a similar way.
Many people consider stress balls a safe and less messy alternative to Play Dough. However, they are still not recommended for children under 3 years of age. Stores and online retailers offer stress balls in a variety of colors and fun patterns.
Stress balls are also relatively cheap. You can purchase a single ball starting at just 40 cents. Larger balls or more creative shapes, such as a potato-shaped ball, begin at around a dollar.
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Modeling Beeswax is a fun and clean alternative to Play Dough. Made from beeswax and rosin, you can warm Modeling Beeswax in your hands to soften for molding and playing, allowing for repetitive usage.
Unlike Play Dough, Modeling Beeswax doesn’t crumble or dry out, making it longer-lasting. Stores and online retailers of it in various vibrant colors.
Due to its more natural composition, Modeling Beeswax tends to be a pricy alternative to Play Dough, beginning at around $10 for a set of 3 or $20 for a set of 12. Due to choking hazards, Modeling Beeswax is also recommended for children aged 3 and up.
Shaving cream is a household item that is softer and more fluffy than Play Dough. Normally, shaving cream is difficult to mold due to its foamy quality. However, freezing shaving cream makes it harder and more durable. Both frozen and unfrozen shaving cream provides excellent sensory input, as kids can use it to shape models and make fun designs.
You can dye plain shaving cream in different colors with food coloring for added excitement. Although it can be messy, kids can play with shaving cream outside or in the bathtub to reduce the clean-up for parents.
A normal bottle of shaving cream is very inexpensive at just a dollar or two for a bottle. It is considered safe for ages 3 and up.
Silly putty is a fun alternative to Play Dough as you can mold it into different shapes and choose from many different colors. However, it stretches more easily than Play Dough and is more similar to a slime consistency. With its elastic material, you can also bounce silly putty.
Silly putty has been entertaining kids for years. Unlike Play Dough, it doesn’t harden or dry out easily. You can use it multiple times without changing the quality of the putty.
Silly putty is safe for kids aged 2 and up. It typically comes in an egg-shaped container. You can purchase it starting at around $1.
Baking Soda Dough
Baking soda dough is a clay-like substance that can be made at home using only baking soda, cornstarch, and water. Like Play Dough, you can mold it into different shapes. Kids can also draw lines and textures into the dough for extra creativity.
Unlike Play Dough, baking soda dough becomes hard and durable when it dries. It is commonly used to make items like ornaments or mini sculptures. You can add different colors and scents to personalize your creation.
Baking soda dough is extremely inexpensive to make as it can be made with just a few at-home ingredients. You can make a single batch for under a dollar. Like many comparable toys, it is considered safe for children aged 3 and up.
Clean mud is another at-home recipe that you can make with common household ingredients. To make this squishy, moldable recipe, all you need is shreds of toilet paper and soap plus warm water. Like Play Dough, clean mud is used to make creations and provide excellent sensory input to young children.
If you don’t like the smell of Play Dough, then clean mud might be for you. You can select what type of soap you use, which will leave your hands clean and smelling great.
Since it is an at-home recipe, clean mud is inexpensive to make. You can make a large batch for under $1. It is also safe for children over 3 years of age.
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Model magic is very similar to Play Dough as it is soft and can be molded into many different shapes. However, it is more squishy and spongy than Play Dough, which makes it less of a mess. Model magic is both easy to shape and crumble-free.
Like Play Dough, stores offer many different colors of model magic. You can air-dry model magic to show off your creations or store them in a container to use again.
Model magic is slightly more expensive than Play Dough, with 4 ounces costing around $3.50. It is not considered safe for children under 3 years of age due to a choking hazard.
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Floof is a soft and smooth material that, like Play Dough, you can model over and over for repetitive fun. You can roll, stretch and mash it into various shapes.
Unlike Play Dough, retailers only offer Floof is a basic, white color. Floof is also lighter than Play Dough, making it easier to make larger and more complex creations.
Stores sell Floof by the bucket instead of small containers. You can purchase it with additional accessories and molds to make playtime extra fun. A bucket equaling about half a pound retails at $20. It is not recommended for use by children under 3 years of age.
Super Wikki Stix
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Super Wikki Stix comes as long, thin sticks that you can combine and mold into endless creations. Made from non-toxic wax, super wikki stix comes in 8 different colors.
Unlike Play Dough, super wikki stix do not mash together when you combine them. Each stick is flexible and sticky so that the stix stick together, but they do not become 1 ball. As a result, you can pull the stix apart to reuse them in multiple creations.
Super wikki stix are slightly more expensive than Play Dough. You can purchase them for around $15 for a tub of 48 stix. They are recommended for children 3 and up, and may be a good option for older kids who enjoy making more complex creations.
Oobleck is an easy, homemade experiment made from cornstarch and water that can be enjoyed in many similar ways to Play Dough. Like Play Dough, you can mold the combination of cornstarch and water into different shapes. However, unlike Play Dough, oobleck does not hold its shape.
Oobleck can be both a solid and a liquid. When you squeeze or mold it, the oobleck will become hard. If you relax your hand, the mixture will become soft and fall through your fingers.
You can also add food coloring to the oobleck to create a variety of colors. It is both inexpensive and easy to make. Kids can help make a large batch of oobleck for around 50 cents. It is not recommended for children under the age of 3.
It may sound simple, but sometimes the most simple toys are the most fun. Kids can use a combination of sand and water to create sandcastles, model animals, and make fun textures in the sand.
Like Play Dough, you can mold sand into many different shapes. However, beach sand falls apart when it dries out and can create more of a mess than Play Dough.
Sand and water are a very inexpensive alternative to Play Dough. If you live near a beach or have sand in your yard, then the cost is free. However, if you’re not lucky enough to have easy access to sand, then you can purchase a small bag for around $3 or $4. Sand is also safe for any child who can play in the sand at the beach, although supervision is recommended.