Spooky Foam Dough

I love play dough.  It’s one of my all time favorite sensory materials and it is my go to activity for rainy afternoons.   If you have a batch of play dough stashed away, then you have a quick-to-prep activity that engages little minds and delights the senses.  There’s something so relaxing about rolling a ball of scented play dough in your hands – don’t be too surprised if you find that you’re the one requesting a play dough play session!

Play dough is simple to make, easy to customize for any theme you can think of (Outer space! Fall!  Birthday cake!) and it lends itself to open-ended and imaginative play.  It’s a delightful alchemy of science and imagination, process and product.  And since we’re in the midst of all things Halloween, we created a few batches of spooooky foam dough.

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That said, this is not a traditional play dough recipe.  A lot of the fun here comes from making the dough itself.  If you’re looking to model little figures or animals or make hand-print keepsakes, this is probably not the recipe for you.  But if you’re interested in creating a fun sensory dough that is it’s own experience, give Spooky Foam Dough a try.

This dough is pretty incredible stuff.  It has the most amazing textures – it is stretchy and squishy and puffy and fluffy and poofy.  It deserves it’s own special word – ploofy.  This is a very ploofy dough.  This is also a very MESSY project, maybe one of the messiest things we’ve ever made.  If the weather is nice, you might want to try making this outside in a large plastic box. Otherwise, just take a deep breath and have fun.  It was quite messy, but clean up was simple and didn’t take long at all.  I also recommend preparing a large bowl filled with warm water, and setting some towels or wipes aside. That way, if you need to wash your hands, you can swish them in the bowl and not get wonderful, ploofy dough all over the faucet handles 😉

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What you will need:

  • Corn starch
  • Foam shaving cream
  • Liquid watercolors or food colors
  • Bowls and spoons for mixing
  • Spooky accessories – we used little plastic snakes, rats and bats

For our spooky foam dough we wanted to make a few different Halloween colors. We originally chose orange, black, green and purple.  Sadly, I chose to try black tempera paint to color the black dough, and while it initially made a lovely, charcoal black dough, it quickly fell apart in crumbly bits.  We couldn’t salvage it, so we decided to move on to our other colors.

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I pulled out my trusty Liquid Watercolors, which I love for hands-on projects, since they create beautiful, vibrant colors and are soap and water washable. They’re also pretty concentrated – you don’t need much to ramp up the color!

You can substitute food colors for the watercolors, but be aware that they may stain hands or clothes.  If you like colorful sensory projects, you may want to invest in your own set.  I only purchased the rainbow colors, so now I may need to go back and get the black (and brown and silver and gold…) colors too.  Check them out here.

Start by pouring some shaving cream into your bowl.  One interesting thing we learned from this project is that there are a lot of factors that affect the dough.  The first can of shaving cream we used was almost empty, so it came out more soupy than foamy.

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Next, add your desired color to the shaving cream.  Stir well with a plastic spoon so that all of the color is mixed in.  You can always add more, drop by drop, until the color is as intense as you want.

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Once your shaving cream is the desired color, add your cornstarch a little at a time and start mixing.  The recipe works in a basic one to one ratio of shaving cream and corn starch, but be ready to keep adjusting the dough.  Add more corn starch if it seems too wet or sticky, and add more shaving cream if it becomes too crumbly. This could be a great experiment for kids –  ask them what they need to add to get the right consistency and let them try it out.

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The dough should eventually begin to stick together into a puffy, foamy dough.  At one point we couldn’t resist anymore – in went the hands!

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When your foam dough is the right consistency, set it aside and wash your bowls, spoons and hands in warm water.  We decided to make orange next.

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Cropped Orange Dough

For our last color we opened a new can of shaving cream.  What a difference we noticed!  Our green dough was a bit more puffy-fluffy since the shaving cream was more foamy.

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When all of your dough is complete – it’s time to play!

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We got out out a small bin to contain the mess, and we added plastic creepy crawlies.  My son had fun poking the critters into the dough and making caves, but he was most delighted to mash the dough together.  This is not a dough that keeps, so have fun with it.  Mixing it up was a lot of messy fun – even Mom joined in.

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I hope you enjoy this spooky, ploofy dough as much as we did!  It may not be for the crafty faint of heart, but if this neat freak mama can survive it, you will too.  🙂


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