Soft play dough is a child’s dream. It’s cookie dough without the risk. And this Jello play dough recipe comes with a cool theme idea: seashells! Humans have been collecting and using seashells for thousands of years, and they make a great fun exploration tool.
Using this play dough is super fun with seashells of various sizes and shapes for a fun, sensory-rich, educational activity. Shells come in many colors, shapes, and sizes because they are made by many different kinds of creatures. And this playdough can also be made in multiple colors, depending on the flavor of Jello you use. So let’s get started.
If you have ocean lovers, they’ll love these other ocean activities for kids.
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Recommended Seashell Books for Kids
Start off by learning more about seashells with some books off my themed seashell book list. Scientists place shells into 7 different categories, but there are over ten thousand different shell-producing or shell-living creatures. And they are all called “mollusks”, and most of them live in the ocean.
From whorls to hinged shells, there are thousands of variations to play with. But be careful when you collect shells from the beach. Not all of them are empty!
This play dough uses flavored jello powder and cornstarch to make the dough. I used vanilla flavored for a beachy color, but you could use any flavor you like. Try green jello for St Patrick’s Day, or red jello play dough for Valentine’s!
The best part is that kids can actually eat it, so you don’t need to worry about using it with toddlers or preschoolers.
Do you want to see more beach-themed activities? Have a look at my list of Beach Learning Activities.
Recommended Ocean Activity Kits
Are you looking for ocean activities for kids but don’t want to worry about all the supplies? Check out these ocean-themed printables perfect for grades 1 to 3!
Homeschooling will be exciting as kids learn all about the ocean with these fun worksheets. This printable pack has 73 pages of exciting fun facts about the ocean, illustrations and full-color pictures, coloring pages, and more!
Do you have kids who want to learn about different places? Travel around the world with your airline ticket and passport in hand to be transported around the world.
I wanted to give the kids a “cookie cutter” type shell, so I used these bivalve shell halves, common with clams and mussels.
Be careful when choosing shells, as some can be fragile and shell pieces can be quite sharp. If any break, throw out the play dough and make a new batch, so you don’t risk cutting little fingers.
Do you need more ideas on what to do this summer? Check this bigger list of fun Summer Activities for Kids.
For best cleanup, I recommend using this play dough with a plastic place mat or tablecloth. It can be a bit sticky, especially right at first. But it’s super soft and so nice on the hands. The soft play dough will contrast nicely with the hard and sharp shells.
You can use other beach-themed items too. Maybe add in some ribbon and create “seaweed” patterns in your play dough “beach”? Older kids might like some small smooth pebbles to add to their beaches. Or maybe you’ll use the play dough to create creatures that will inhabit your seashells!
What you need:
- Vanilla-flavored instant pudding mix (note: I purchased the 3.4 oz. box, you will have some leftovers for another batch if you’d like)
- Warm water
- Mixing bowl
- Mixing spoon or spatula
- Plastic mat or tablecloth
Add jello pudding mix, warm water, and half the cornstarch into a bowl. The other half is saved for later.
Mix well! Then add the remaining cornstarch before mixing again.
Place the mix on the plastic mat then knead. The dough should not be sticky, but still soft. If the dough is still sticky, add more cornstarch.
Place the seashells so your kids can now enjoy playing with this Jello Play Dough Recipe!
- 1 cup cornstarch
- ¼ cup vanilla-flavored instant pudding mix
- ⅓ cup warm water
- Medium Mixing Bowl
- Mixing spoon (or spatula!)
- Plastic mat or Tablecloth
- Start by putting half the cornstarch (½ cup) into the bowl. Put aside the other half for later.
- Add the ¼ cup of jello pudding mix to the mixing bowl.
- Pour in ⅓ cup of warm water.
- Mix well!
- Add the remaining cornstarch and mix well again. It should form a sticky dough ball.
- Tip the bowl out onto the plastic mat and knead. Work the dough until you get the consistency you want -- not sticky, but still soft.
- If your dough is still too sticky, add more cornstarch, a tablespoon at a time.
- Once you have your desired consistency, you may now let your kids play with it and enjoy!
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Playing with play dough has so many benefits for kids. The dough can help strengthen fine motor muscles. And working the dough into shapes or with tools like seashells helps develop those fine motor skills too. Plus the sensory benefits of a nice soft dough like this can be immensely useful for regulation.
I hope your kids like this soft play dough that was super easy to make as mine did.
Do you like this activity? Now, teach your kids a new skill while learning about the ocean and ocean animals with this octopus yarn craft.
More Summer Activities
Summer Fun Activity Pack for Lower Elementary by 3 Boys and a Dog
More Play Dough Ideas
No-cook Strawberry Play Dough by Natural Beach Living
Sparkly Lime Jello Play Dough by Plain Vanilla Mom