To get my kids excited about Halloween, I made some Halloween play dough for making jack-o-lanterns. I set up this Halloween craft as an invitation to play. I rolled out some pumpkin shapes from the orange play dough, and rolled out some black so my preschooler could easily cut face shapes. Then I made a couple sample pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns out of our Halloween play dough.
Adding a Halloween theme to a new batch of play dough was like rotating toys; it made the activity fresh and new. The result was hours of Halloween fun. Both of my kids made different jack-o-lanterns with the play dough, then went on with their usual play dough creations: tunnels, caves, cupcakes, and decorated cookies. My 6 year old stayed at the table for over two hours playing with her Halloween play dough!
I added Wilton gel food colors to a batch of cooked play dough. You can buy a Halloween set of Wilton food color gels. I found the black Wilton gel food color at Walmart. It's just a couple dollars. We've also used it for Space Play Dough (added silver glitter) and a few birthday cakes (Racing Birthday Cake and Angry Birds Cake).
I've tried a variety of no-cook play doughs, which are nice because you don't cook them and you don't need cream of tartar. But nothing beats the old fashioned cooked play dough, so that's what I made for the Halloween play dough. Here is my recipe for cooked play dough.
Cooked Play Dough Recipe
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar.
Combine in a saucepan. Add 1 cup colored water and 2 teaspoons oil. Stir quickly and cook over medium heat. Stir constantly until it forms a ball. Turn out and knead. Cool. Store at room temperature in sealed container.