Nonprofit Science
Hands-on activities and supplies for
K-8 science education.
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Make Play Dough
Description: Make play dough from flour, oil, water, and salt.


1.) Recognize different states of matter (solid, liquid, gas, non-Newtonian fluid).
2.) Understand scientists measure properties of matter such as quantity, size, shape, color, hardness.
2.) Understand that chemical reactions are energy transformations that are taking place all around us naturally and by man-made creation.
3.) A chemical reaction changes the chemical nature of the compounds involved and can also change the chemical state, solid, liquid or gas, of the compounds.
4.) Recognize the formulas for volume measurement of a solid shape (Part II).


1.) 1 cup salt
2.) 1 cup hot water
3.) 3 cups flour
4.) 1 Tbs oil
5.) Food coloring (optional)
6.) Fruit fragrance (optional)

Ruler & Calculator (Part II)

Part I:
1.) Heat 1-2 cups water or use hot water from a faucet (boiling is not necessary).
2.) Measure and combine all of the ingredients using a sturdy spoon.
3.) Add a few more tablespoons of warm water until ingredients combine. Dough may be grainy at first.
Knead the dough until smooth. The more you hold and mold the dough, the smoother it gets.
5.) Add a few drops more oil if ingredients will still not combine.
6.) Describe and record five qualities of the play dough and share/compare them with others.

Part II: (Grades 5-8)

1.) Shape the dough into a sphere, cube, and a pyramid.
2.) Record the formulas for measuring the volume of each shape.
3.) Measure, calculate, and record the volumes of each shape.


The flour, salt, water, and oil are combining to form a new substance. They cannot be separated back into their original substances or states because a chemical reaction has occurred creating a dough with a puffy, stretchy, pliable texture. Foods, fabrics, plastics, fibers, gels, rubber, and gooey stuff are all materials that form chains of molecules called polymers. Polymers are solids because they hold their shape even though it is stretchy or pliable.
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