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.
If you have ocean lovers, they’ll love these other ocean activities for kids.
Use 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.
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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 corn starch to make the dough. I used vanilla flavored for a beach-y color, but you could use any flavor you like. Try a green jello for St Patrick’s day, or a 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 need more ideas on what to do this summer? Check this bigger list of fun Summer Activities for Kids.
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.
For best clean up, I recommend using this play dough with a plastic place mat or table cloth. 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:
- 1 cup corn start
- ¼ cup vanilla flavored instant pudding mix (note: I purchased the 3.4 oz. box, you will have some left over for another batch if you’d like)
- ⅓ cup warm water
- a medium mixing bowl
- a mixing spoon (or spatula!)
- plastic mat or tablecloth
What you do:
- Start by putting in half the corn starch (so ½ cup) to the bowl. Put aside the other half for later.
- Add the ¼ cup of jello pudding mix to the mixing bowl.
- Pour in the warm water.
- Mix well!
- Add the remaining corn starch 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 corn starch, a tablespoon at a time.
Now you can add in your seashells and kids. Mix them up well and let them play!
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 like mine did.