Our kids love Play-Doh (And as parents we do too)! Not only is it fun for them (and us) to play with, but it helps calm them down during an “emotional crisis.” You know the ones I’m talking about. Well, if you haven’t tried using an art activity to bring your kid back to “reality” try one. You may be surprised.

Anyways, sculpting with clay has always been a favorite of mine. As a kid I remember using Play-Doh a lot, but I also remember the first time my parents bought modeling clay…I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It’s so much better!

Play-Doh is great:

  • Especially for kids around 2 years old
  • Its extremely soft, perfect for little fingers
  • When it dries out it’s a little easier to clean up
  • There’s a lot of toys you can use with Play-Doh

Personal Play-Doh side note: Why do they make it smell so bad? Do they add that intentionally, hoping that kids won’t want to eat it? I think they still do. Anyways, I’ve never really liked the smell of Play-Doh, but it’s never stopped the art :)

Modeling clay is better:

  • More fun for older kids, because it holds form better
  • Firmer, but after a little use it softens right up
  • Doesn’t dry out
  • Doesn’t crumble
  • Extremely cheap (I bought the pack above at Hobby Lobby and used a %40 off coupon)
  • More colors

Modeling clay side note: Clean up is a little different. Play-Doh tends to crumble and you end up vacuuming a lot of little dried up pieces. Modeling clay is usually oil based (the reason why it doesn’t dry out, or crumble), so be careful about choosing the right surface for them to use the clay on. It will leave an oily residue on whatever surface it touches. Nothing a little soap can’t fix, but be cautious of wood surfaces.

All in all, you can never go wrong with Play-Doh in the house…but there does come a time when you should think about upgrading. Our little six year old, Jack, had a blast making the “guy” on left. He was shocked when it stayed upright…he said, “Look dad, he’s standing up.” Oh, I had a blast too. I made the old man’s face on the right. It made Jack laugh, because he said it had so many wrinkles.

  • Bob C

    I have a cool homemade play dough recipe that is great… We found out if you color it with a marker you can get any color you want…. And smells much better

    • Rob

      That’s awesome! Would you mind sharing it with us? We’d love to try it out.

    • The homemade Play Doh that calls for Cream of Tarter and Oil is the best!

  • deevelyn

    Thanks for the info…just what I needed to decide what to buy for my toddlers.

    • Rob

      Hi Deevelyn,

      Glad you found it useful! Also, thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.


  • We started using modeling clay to help with handwriting practice. We roll out the shapes of the letters we are learning to give more tactile experiences. One more positive about it is that the extra resistance helps build finger strength and fine motor skills, but our kids are just having fun! Play-doh does that too, but their little hands have to work a bit harder with the clay (which is a good thing). I had no idea that we would end up liking modeling clay so much better than play-doh – but we do find it more fun to work with. I also think it’s easier to clean up, but we don’t have carpet or a vacuum. Thanks for sharing your ideas on this blog!

    • Rob

      Hi Stacey! That’s an awesome idea for clay. If you don’t mind I may use that with my own kids :)

      Thanks for your comment, it means a lot that you’d take the time to write. Please stay in touch!

      Best Regards,

  • Being such a cheapskate I usually make an oily dough for use with kids at school but I might just grab those Sunday coupons and try modeling dough–thx for the inspiration!

    • Rob

      Hi Karen!

      Awesome, glad you found the post helpful. One thing I’ve learned is that the modeling clay can get pretty hard…for younger kids you may have to show them how to warm it up first. I usually just tell my kids to roll it around in between their hands for a couple minutes.

  • I love your drawings,painting.shading and more.i have more fun with your drawings it is super fun with it.

  • This is a great site – very fun posts. I want to find an alternative to play doh because we just find it’s too messy with all the crumbs. My only concern is to find an alternative that is non-toxic. Do you know if modeling clay is non-toxic?

  • Crafty Crowd

    Our kids just love modelling clay (and so do I!) Thanks for this article. Any chance of tutorials in the near future to create a pony or even a bionical (lego character)?? Many thanks.

  • Wow, this is so awesome! Thanks for the recipe, Lee! We’ll have to try it out.