Night Sky Playdough; Our Favorite Way to Study Space

Let me begin this post by saying we made this night sky playdough NINE MONTHS ago and it is still going strong!

I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but this playdough lasts forever. (We store it in a ziploc storage bag inside a cupboard inside a cool room).

We’ve used it to study constellations, galaxies, planets and for just plain fun. The glitter – which was my main concern – magically stays contained inside the playdough.

Again, I don’t know how. It’s just plain magic, folks.

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Here is the Recipe for Night Sky Playdough:

Mix together:

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup fine salt
  • 3 Tbsp cream of tartar (helps make it smooth and elastic)

Stir in:

  • 1.5 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of boiling water (carefully!)
  • 5-10 drops blue or purple food coloring

Knead it together until it’s nice and smooth. Then, pour a small amount of glitter in the center of the dough, and knead it in a little at a time.

Add star sequence or beads and press them in to make constellations.

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Or, use stars or marbles to make galaxy spirals.


Use different colors of playdough to form planets and create a solar system.

There are so many ways you can play with this playdough!

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8 thoughts on “Night Sky Playdough; Our Favorite Way to Study Space

  1. I love the constellation curriculum! Thank you for the play dough idea! Honestly “brilliant “!
    Can you help me find the book you used?
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful curriculum

    1. Hi Nicole, I’m so glad you like it! It’s actually my book from when I was a kid, called Nightwatch by Terence Dickinson. It’s a little advanced for my kids but we still pull from it and love looking at the photos

    1. Hi Lauren, you could, but you’d have to make sure your home’s temperature is consistently warm enough to keep the coconut oil from solidifying. I’d use a different oil that doesn’t solidify in cool temperatures. Or, you can do without – I’ve forgotten to add it before and it’s turned out just fine.

  2. Hello! I am making this playdough for my current Astronomy class of K-2 kiddos so that we can do this activity together! If my mixture seems really wet, do I need to add some more flour and/or cream of tartar to get it to the pliable state, or does it just need some time to dry? I followed the directions accordingly, but this is more like cupcake batter. I would also love to know what brand of food coloring you used to get that deep, dark blue color!

    1. Hi there! Hmm… are you using regular all-purpose flour? I’m not sure why it would be so wet. If you keep kneading it, it should form a smooth, soft but firm dough. You can add a bit more flour but too much might make it stiff. I used a LOT of blue and purple food coloring, with some red mixed in. I just kept adding food coloring until it was the color I wanted. You definitely need a good amount of food coloring to achieve a deep color. Hope that helps!

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