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Close up of toddler hand holding blue cloud dough shaped into a starfish over a sensory tray

Cloud Dough Recipes for Sensory Messy Play

Cloud dough, sometimes called moon sand, is a version of sensory playdough that fits somewhere between dough and sand. When compacted, it makes tight malleable clumps, and when loosened, it makes a sand-like mixture. It crumbles like sand but makes for fantastic sandcastles and shapes.

Further additions and variations can be applied to the basic mixtures to add a twist of texture, smell or colour and your little ones are sure to love it.

There are multiple ways to prepare this sensory bin filler, each offering a slightly different feature and texture. Some versions are edible while others are slightly longer-lasting. Depending on what you have on hand or what suits your needs, here are a few different options: 

Corn-Starch Cloud Dough Recipe

This version of cloud dough is tighter and resembles a dough more than the crumbly sand-like texture. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups corn-starch or cornflour 
  • 1 cup conditioner or baby lotion 
  • Food colouring for different colours(optional)

 Instructions:

  1. Add your corn-starch to a large mixing bowl.
  2. If you are going to add food colouring it's best to mix it into the conditioner for even results. 
  3. Add your conditioner to your bowl of corn-starch.
  4. Use a spatula or spoon to mix ingredients together.
  5. With your hands, finish kneading the dough together. 

Add fruit-scented conditioner for an additional sensory layer and encourage your little ones to guess the flavour. 

Let the worry of stain removal go. Simply enjoy the moment of messy play with your children and leave the laundry for later thanks to OMO detergents. 

Plain flour and Oil Cloud Dough Recipe

This version can be made as a taste safe variety, depending on what you have on hand. The texture for this one is more crumbly, coming together less like a dough and more like compactable, wet sand. 

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup baby oil/edible oil such as olive, vegetable or seed oil
  • Food colouring for different colours(optional)

 Instructions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl add the flour and break down any clumps. Sifted flour works best to avoid clumping but it's not essential. 
  2. Gradually add the oil of your choice using a spoon to mix. 
  3. When all of the oil is added and incorporated, use your hands to bring the mixture together. 
  4. Finally, work the food colouring into the incorporated mixture. 

For a more realistic sand-like colour and a delicious chocolatey aroma, you can substitute ½ a cup of flour for cocoa powder. Add mini marshmallows as make-shift boulders – this is the perfect terrain for diggers and trucks. This is the ideal item to add to the landscape of edible wonders .

Don't worry about mess and stains because OMO is here to help with stain removal. Simply enjoy the moment making memories with your little ones and leave the satin removal to OMO. 

Gluten-Free Cloud Dough Recipe 

This iteration of cloud dough is gluten-free when used without conditioner, which is perfect for households with gluten allergies. This recipe resembles cake crumbs in texture and comes together in a tougher, denser dough than the others. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups baking soda per colour
  • Approximately 1/4 cup water
  • Food colouring for different colours (optional)

Instructions: 

  1. Start with your baking soda in a large bowl. 
  2. Pour in water mixed with food colouring, about a tablespoon at a time. You can add more if the mix is still too dry. Stop if the desired consistency is reached before using the full 1/4 cup.

Add 1-2 tablespoons of glow in the dark or fluorescent paint to create a bright or glow in the dark version of this recipe. *Note: if you are using these paints in your mixture, make sure to opt for non-toxic paint.

Enjoy the messy play with your little ones and leave the struggle of stain removal to OMO’s range of trusted detergents designed for removing stains. 

General additions

As additional sensory features, you can add a few drops of child-safe essential oil, food colouring and even glitter. Break your doughs into batches and make different colours for extra fun! For added learning benefit you can use primary colours and let your kids explore colour mixing first hand. These ingredients will add unique colours and smells to your little ones’ messy play experience. 

A tablespoon of spices such as cinnamon and ginger can also make for a tremendous holiday-themed version of the mixture. Use different toys for different adventures. Opt for a beach theme complete with buckets and spades. Or fairies and dinosaurs for a fantastical paradise. Perhaps choose trains, planes and automobiles for a transport wonderland or even kitchen rollers and cutters for a make-belief baker's delight. 

There are plenty of fun ways to take your cloud dough to the next level. Why not share some of your ideas and successes with us on Facebook.

Storage

Storage for cloud dough or moon sand varies, but the principle idea is that if it gets too dry or too dirty, it's ready to be thrown away and for the next batch to begin. Store in airtight bags or containers for up to 4 weeks. Remember when using food ingredients such as flour, storage times can vary greatly. This is because many of the ingredients are perishable and will not retain their desired textures and can become mouldy. Always check the dough before you play with it. 

Use this dough in your sensory bins as a filler to encourage sensory play – not only is it an excellent activity for kids to learn through play, but it has the added benefit of being messy play. 

And don't worry about spills and stains on your little one's clothes during messy play activities, OMO washing powder and other laundry products are ideal for stain removal. Take a look at more washing tips and fantastic products to help you. 

Childs hands playing with brightly coloured home-made dough

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