How to make salt dough for kids

It might end up wonky and partially lodged in the carpet, but it's the fun that counts... right?

How To Make Salt Dough

Making salt dough is fun, squidgy and very messy – so it’s the perfect activity for kids! If you’re looking for a way of getting creative with basic kitchen cupboard ingredients, follow this quick and simple recipe and make vibrant festive decorations, gifts and animal sculptures. And don’t worry if a bit goes splat onto a wall or floor – the fun and that big smile on the child’s face are totally worth it and that’s easy to clear up. 

The colourful dough is irresistible to young kids, so keep an eye on them at all times to ensure the dough stays in their hands (and not in mouths or into the brand new, week-old shaggy rug you’ve just bought).   

What you need for making salt dough

  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup water
  • Wooden spoon
  • Rolling pin
  • Cookie cutters
  • Acrylic paint

How to make salt dough

Mix the salt and flour into a bowl and slowly add water to the dry ingredients. At first, fold in the water using a wooden spoon but once the mixtures becomes firmer, use your hands to massage it into dough. You want the dough to be firm and dry, so keep adding flour as needed. Knead the dough for 10 minutes and then leave it to sit for half an hour. For doughs of different colours, separate your mixture into bowls and add food colouring.

How to make salt dough ornaments

Now for the fun part! All kids – older or younger, quiet or boisterous – love to get messy with dough and squeeze fistfuls of it until it comes out between the gaps of their fingers. Rip off a clump and let your child go for it! 

If you want to know how to make salt dough ornaments that are neat and decorative, roll out the dough until it is half a centimetre thick. Use cookie cutters to shape the dough and put on a lined tray ready for baking.

Or if you child’s happy just making a giant salty, doughy blob – that’s cool too. 

How to bake salt dough

To harden your salt dough creations, bake them at a low heat for a long time. Preheat your oven to 100 degrees celsius and bake for at least 3 hours, turning them halfway through. The time will vary depending on the thickness of your sculptures/blobs.


While your dough creations are cooking, get your kids to help with the clean-up process. You’ll have dried clumps of dough on your work surface, so it’s useful to have moistened Plenty kitchen towels on hand to sort the problem out easily – they are strong even when wet and are up to rubbing that dried dough from the table.

How to make salt dough ornaments shiny and colourful

Once your dough creations are hard and completely cool, it’s time to bring your salt dough ideas to life with paint. If you want to know how to make salt dough ornaments shiny, use acrylic paint. This will give your sculptures a glossy, plastic-like finish. For extra glitz, apply glitter glue (the fun is worth the clean up) to your creations – perfect for Christmas tree decorations. Put them aside to dry, ready for gifting relatives and decorating your house.


Dry acrylic paint can be tricky to get off fabric, so make sure everyone in the family is wearing an apron or old clothes and that they stay off the sofa. Unless apron-painted sofas become a new trend, in which case, go for it!

Making salt dough couldn’t be easier. All you need are basic ingredients for hours of doughy creative fun for you and your family – just make sure those salt dough ornaments have set before you hang them up! 

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