Play Recipe: Birdseed Playdough

Today I’m sharing a fun and easy play recipe that my three-year-old twins loved- birdseed playdough!  The addition of birdseed to our basic playdough recipe was a really neat way to incorporate the twins’ current interests, stimulate language development and pretend play, and add an interesting texture to our dough.

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Birdseed playdough

Birdseed Playdough

Whenever I set up an activity for the twins that I would like to share with you, I try to do it quickly during nap time or when they are otherwise distracted so I can get a few setup shots before they see it.  I really dislike having them wait while I photograph things, because it feels like I’m putting the blog first. On this day, my little boy came downstairs right when I was shooting the birdseed playdough, but it turned out to be a good thing that he couldn’t resist exploring the new texture and bright colored birds from our Safari Ltd Backyard Birds Toob. He made my photos 1,000 times better 😉

Litte boy enjoying birdseed playdough

My little ones are at a fantastic stage in their development where their pretend play is just growing by leaps and bounds every day, so they LOVE sensory play setups that have an added element of loose parts or small figures that excite their imaginations. They are really into animals right now, and all the birds that we have been spotting in our backyard this spring have been super exciting to them, so I knew this playdough would be a hit. We had lots of birdseed leftover from our chicks and seeds sensory tray, so I decided to set aside a few cupfuls for this experiment before giving the rest to our feathered friends.

Safari Ltd. birds on birdseed playdough

If you’d like to try making your own birdseed playdough, here’s how we did it:

Birdseed Playdough Recipe

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • About 2 cups mixed birdseed (adjust according to your preference)

In a medium saucepan, mix together all ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the dough thickens and begins to form a large clump around the spoon (this usually only takes about a minute). At this point, remove from heat and turn your dough out onto a plate or wax paper to cool. Once cooled, knead your birdseed into the dough a few handfuls at a time until incorporated.

Smushing birdseed doughBe warned- this activity is MESSY!  As you manipulate the dough, some of the seeds do work their way out.  I just swept around the table when we were done- no biggie. But if you are mess averse, by all means, take it outside! Your backyard birds will thank you 😉

Developmental Skills

During our play, I observed lots of developmental skills in action and a fair amount of playful learning, too!  The cool texture of this dough inspires lots of sensory exploration and vocabulary building as the children comment on the bumpy seeds and begin to compare and contrast them. My twins picked out the different seeds in the mixture and lined them up, asking lots of questions about each one and exclaiming over the different sizes, shapes, and colors. During the seed inspection, opportunities for early math play such as sorting and patterning naturally presented themselves. The addition of the bird figurines prompted lots and lots of pretend play with this dough- the twins made up elaborate stories about the birds making friends, eating seeds together, and even fighting and making up 😉 Imaginary play is amazing for language, cognitive development, and social/emotional development, so I love seeing the twins engaged in it for long periods. My kiddos also spent lots of time pretending to “plant” the seeds in the dough by poking holes and carefully choosing and placing seeds in them, which is obviously great for fine motor, too! And the realistic Safari Ltd Backyard Birds made it fun for the twins to learn the names of the different species we were playing with, which I find really awesome.

More Great Stuff for You

Looking for more bird activities? How about our chicks and seeds sensory tray? My twins and their little co-op friends loved this simple activity!

chicks and seeds sensory tray

If you are going to play like a bird, why not eat like one, too? I love this Eat Like a Bird “snacktivity” over at My Nearest and Dearest!

The Homemade Play Dough Recipe Book

If you love play dough as much as we do, I highly recommend that you check out The Homemade Play Dough Recipe Book written by Cathy James of NurtureStore. It is a super creative e-book packed with amazing ideas regarding all things play dough, including:

  • all the recipes you need for the activities in the book including non-cook and cooked play dough, gluten-free dough, salt dough, modeling dough, and real bread.
  • ideas for 52 weeks of loose parts play, in a printable poster format
  • a whole year of play dough activities, arranged seasonally. There’s an idea for every week of the year including sensory and imaginary play, storytelling, art ideas, small worlds, math activities, reading and writing ideas.

homemade play dough recipe 8


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  1. Love this, Stephanie!!
    Thanks for linking to our snacktivity (love that word!).

  2. does this hurt the birds??


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