My mom used to make play dough for us when we were little and I do the same for my children using her recipe. It really is so easy to make and very frugal as well.
Combine flour, salt, and cream of tartar in a pan. In a separate bowl, combine water, oil and food coloring. Add the liquid mixture to the pan with the dry ingredients. Mix well. Cook over low heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat when mixture forms a ball and isn’t clinging to the sides of the pan. Take dough from pan and knead on a floured surface until it is soft and smooth. Store in an airtight container or zippered bag.
My children absolutely adore play dough. They use cookie cutters and other kitchen utensils and make all sorts of creations. We do have some toys that are specifically designed for play dough, but they were gifts and are definitely not necessary to enjoy playing with the dough.
Play dough provides children with opportunities for creative expression. The making of the play dough is a science activity while playing with it provides fine motor skills and color recognition.