I have vague memories of playing with homemade play dough as a child. I remember the grainy texture, the smell of it (or maybe that's the brand name stuff) and I definitely remember the taste of it - salty! I made play dough last week for Zinnia and her buddy Avi.
Here's the how to:
1 Cup flour
1/4 Cup salt
1 Tbs oil
~1/2 Cup warm water
Once the water boils, add the dry ingredients to the saucepan and continue stirring on low heat. Add more flour or water as needed to get the desired consistency. Once the dough forms into a ball place it on a floured surface. When it has cooled knead it until it's stretchy but not sticking to the fingers.
For the colors I went the eco-groovy route and used vegetables and spices. For the red I boiled a diced beet for about twenty minutes and used the colored water for the play dough mixture. For blue I used a handful of blueberries and for the yellow I used a tablespoon of turmeric. All of the ingredients I found in my pantry. I love knowing that I can whip a fun afternoon of play within a few minutes without having to a) leave the house b) spend money and c) worry about toxic ingredients.
And, of course the most important part of play is that the kids loved it. They smashed and mushed and rolled and threw and made a good ol' mess - and that's what it's all about.