Color Surprise Playdough





Like many libraries, we are a popular field trip destination in our community.  We LOVE this chance to do some in-house outreach.  For some groups that have visited us for many years, we like to send these kiddos home with a little something to serve as a talking piece so they remember to tell their parents what they did at the library today.  We have done many different variations on this over the years, but the one we did this spring is one of my absolute favorites!  It happened to be a favorite of our field-trip friends, too!  We had parents stopping in to thank us and ask us, “How did you do that?!”


So what was this amazing, non-tchotchke souvenir?  COLOR SURPRISE PLAYDOUGH.  These little dough balls were quick to assemble, perfect for all ages and any sensory or allergy issues PLUS…they were affordable!  You probably have the ingredients on hand right now.  I’m telling you, this dough is awesome.  When the kids first get it they think it is a boring, plain ball of playdough, but as they begin to squish it and play with it the color hidden inside reveals itself.  The more they squeeze and mix the color into the dough the more vibrant it becomes.  All of the kids couldn’t wait to find out what color was hidden inside their dough!  For kids with gluten allergies or sensory issues, they aren’t left out of the fun!  They just keep the dough in their bag and can still be included, squeezing away to find their color surprise.

You need:

  • A good play dough recipe like the one found here (thank you Pinterest and friends over at Imagination Tree!!!  We have tried a lot of play dough recipes but this one works great!  I won’t waste time listing the recipe here, but click on through and grab it.  It is AWESOME!)
  • Food Coloring or liquid water colors
  • sandwich baggies


First, mix up a double batch of your playdough (this makes 32 balls of dough).  Divide it in half and rolled each half into a long piece of dough.  To be honest, they kind of looked like loaves of french bread.  From there we took a butter knife and divided each of those halves into 16 equal(ish) pieces.  Those pieces were then rolled into balls.



Now this is where the magic begins!  Grab one of the dough balls and your food coloring or liquid water color.  We used McCormick’s Neon and Classic food coloring and were really impressed with the vivid colors which used very little dye.


With your finger make an indention into the middle of your dough ball.  Make sure it is deep but not too deep.  Too deep and your dye will sneak out too soon and ruin the surprise.  Not deep enough and when you go to seal the dough back up it will ooze out and make YOU the color surprise.  Usually an indention halfway to three-quarters of the way into the ball works well.


Put about three drops of food coloring into the indention.  Then very gently start closing the opening.  Make sure not to press down but just squeeze the sides of the opening together and smooth it over.  In the end, you should be back to something that looks like the same dough ball you started with.

Since ours were to be taken home, we then popped each of the balls into a sandwich bag with a sheet stapled to the outside letting parents know where the dough had come from and what it was.

Fun, affordable, and oh-so-easy!  Plus it is easily adapted if you want to try this at home instead of for large groups.





One thought on “Color Surprise Playdough

  1. Pingback: Special Visitors at the library! | Moline Public Library Kids

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