Free Play Art :: Cornstarch Clay

by Amy on February 24, 2012

free play art for kids

We love our homemade play dough, but I thought the girls might enjoy working with a smoother dough. I made a batch of cornstarch clay and set it out with a variety of texture-making materials from around the house.

This week: Cornstarch Clay

cornstarch clay and texture materials

Recipe for Cornstarch Clay:

This is a recipe I had scribbled in my teacher notes – there are many variations, I’m sure!

Combine in a medium saucepan:
2 cups baking soda
1 cup cornstarch
1 1/4 cups water

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it begins to look like mashed potatoes. Immediately remove from heat.

Let the clay cool a bit and then knead to form a smooth ball. (If you overcook, it will get hard and lumpy.) For colored clay, knead in a few drops of food coloring or liquid watercolors.

Texture Materials:

  • toothpicks
  • Legos
  • fork
  • rubber stamps
  • mesh from produce bag
  • plastic straws
  • paint scrapers
  • frosting tips
  • pinecones
  • shells
  • yarn or string

The cornstarch clay is only slightly sticky, so it doesn’t get stuck in all the Lego or rubber stamp grooves. Yay for less clean-up! The plastic frosting tips were the most popular texture tool this time around.

This free play art time turned into a coin-making factory. The girls rolled balls, smashed them with a glass, and then added various textures and designs. We left them to air-dry for a day, and now they are included in the play rotation quite frequently. Doesn’t everyone need a bag of special coins for playtime?

Need more art inspiration? View all our Free Play Art posts.

Happy playing!


Stamps Direct February 24, 2012 at 8:57 am

What a neat idea for using rubber stamps!

Deb @ Home life simplified February 24, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Absolutely love it – thanks for sharing. My girls (7 and 8 1/2) love clay and sculpting and it gets expensive. Off to stock up on 2 ingredients today!

Amy February 24, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Awesome! I hope your girls love trying out this type of clay. The finished products seem pretty sturdy, too!

Little Wonders' Days February 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm

We have never made this clay. I love your free play art posts. They always inspire me to do more open ended activities with my kids.

Amy February 24, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Thank you, Kelly! I think your kids would love playing with this clay – it has a wonderful texture.

allie February 25, 2012 at 9:45 am

This seems like a great exploration, and I’ve been meaning to explore new clays, since I make the same one every week! I love the whiteness of it – it makes it so open ended!

Thanks for sharing!

molly February 27, 2012 at 7:41 am

We made some this morning and it was great fun. Loved how smooth it felt. We are waiting to see what it turns out like if/when it hardens completely — we might try painting and covering with Mod Podge to preserve the pieces they made. How do you keep yours?

Basbusa's Mama March 3, 2012 at 10:43 am

Thanks so much for the Free Play Art series! Your ideas have just the right mix of novelty and familiarity for my daughter. You are great at putting together basic supplies in such imagination-inspiring combinations!

Amy March 4, 2012 at 8:23 pm

You’re welcome – so glad you are finding some creativity inspiration for you and your daughter!

Elisabeth March 6, 2012 at 8:55 pm

How quickly does this clay dry out? Do I need to make it the same day it will be used, or if we store it tightly wrapped/sealed will it retain its moisture long enough to make a day or two in advance? I’m thinking this would be a wonderful “handmade kid craft” for Christmas ornaments or sculptures … Thanks for the wonderful blog – just stumbled across it and really love your 10 ways to play downloads – my 4 year old will be getting much less computer time this month by the looks of it!

Amy March 6, 2012 at 10:50 pm

I’m thinking a day or two in advance would be fine – just seal it up in a plastic bag and put it in the fridge till you’re ready to use it. I do think it would be prone to getting moldy at room temp. Hope that helps!

Amanda March 7, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Thanks for sharing! My 22 month old sometimes has a hard time with traditional playdoh. This was easy for her to mold.

Amy March 13, 2012 at 7:01 am

That’s great! We love the soft texture, too – thanks for letting me know it was a hit with your little one. :)

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