How to make homemade pumpkin spice play dough

There’s nothing quite like homemade pumpkin spice play dough. If you’re going to make play dough at all during the Autumn months, then this should be one of your ‘go-to recipes.’

When it comes to Autumn, I’m really quite predictable. I love cosy jumpers, long walks and a good old pumpkin spice latte. I’ve wanted to make this play dough for some time, yet couldn’t source any pumpkin spice mix (it was rather expensive from Amazon) so I eventually googled a recipe and made my own – turns out it was pretty simple…

Homemade pumpkin spice play dough is one of our favourites, because once you’ve made the spice, it’s so easy to replicate year after year. Of course, the name ‘pumpkin spice’ is a little misleading, because there isn’t actually any pumpkin in the recipe, but it will give you that classic aroma that we all associate with ‘Pumpkin Spice lattes’.

a 4 year old girl plays with homemade pumpkin spice play dough in an IKEA play kitchen

Depending on where you are in the world, pumpkin spice mix might be hard to obtain. I’ve lived in Austria for the last few years and when we first started making pumpkin spice dough, I couldn’t get the pre-mixed versions anywhere. Amazon searches yielded expensive results from American imported mixes, so I eventually googled a recipe and made my own – turns out it was pretty simple…

How to make pumpkin spice mix

This recipe was sourced from Taste of Home, with slight adjustments. Just to note, you need to be super careful with nutmeg as it is a hallucinogenic – check out this article for extra information. As a result, I wouldn’t recommend this recipe for children who are likely to taste test or alternatively, just leave the nutmeg out.

You will need:

  • 4 tsp of ground ginger (the original recipe called for 2, but I wanted a lighter colour on mine)
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp of cloves
  • 1/2 tsp of nutmeg

The above will be enough for the play dough itself, however if you want to make enough for actual seasoning too, then double the quantities.


We put all of the ingredients into a pestle and mortar, then my children ground it all down to mix. This was a great opportunity for them to smell the ingredients and to work on hand strength. It smelled exactly like the pumpkin spice lattes I love – yummy!

a hand holds up a jar of homemade pumpkin spice

Our no-cook Play Dough Method

In order to make this homemade pumpkin spice play dough, you simply need to follow our basic play dough recipe and add a little sprinkle of spice. I recommend starting with just a little spice as too much will dry out the dough.

When making play dough with your little one at home, I really recommend opting for the no-cook method. This allows your child to be fully involved in the process. You can find the exact recipe that we use here. 

As you can see from the photographs in this blog post, both of my children love to help and especially when it comes to making homemade pumpkin spice play dough. They love grinding up the spices with a pestle and mortar just as much as they like making the dough itself!!

a 4 year old girl is making homemade pumpkin spice play dough

Homemade Play Dough Care Tips

To preserve the homemade pumpkin spice play dough for as long as possible, take the following steps:


After spending the first half of the year in Austria without being able to source cream of tartar, I can honestly say that it makes the biggest difference in the success of the play dough. We tried using lemon or lime juice instead but it just wasn’t the same. I’ve since started bulk ordering cream of tartar from Amazon (is that crazy?!) and it’s made the biggest difference!

Without cream of tartar, the dough would get crumbly fast, but now we have lovely soft, smooth play dough again – yay!


You’ve gone to the effort of making the play dough, you need to store in correctly. We tend to wrap ours in ziplock bags (which we reuse for new batches) then we seal the dough inside a IKEA GLIS container.

Generally speaking, keeping the dough in a cool dry place will be enough to make it last for up to 4 weeks. However, in the summer we have occasionally kept the dough in the fridge to stop it from going sticky.

What to do with dry dough:

If your little one has been playing for some time with the play dough then it is likely to get dry. If needed at the end of a play session, we add a drop or two of water or a teaspoon of oil to the dough using a pipette to revive it. Works like a charm!

How to prevent sticky dough:

When making dough, the best thing we’ve found is to knead it by hand to get all of the stickiness out. If you’re still finding the texture a little too much on the sticky side however, keep rolling into small amounts of flour until you get the right, ‘springy’ consistency.


Why you should make play dough with your children:

Homemade play dough can get messy with children involved, so I do understand the temptation to just do the ‘making part’ yourself. BUT, making play dough together has so many educational benefits. Here’s a few reasons why you should try it with your child:
  • Introduction to early math: From counting cups or spoonfuls to measuring out quantities, there’s heaps your little one can learn from this practical activity.
  • Hand-eye coordination: it takes focus to pour ingredients from the packet into the bowl
  • Fine motor skills and hand strength: using pincer grip to hold the teaspoon and hand strength to mix the ingredients.
  • Sensory exploration: making play dough engages the senses, although I should add that tasting is not recommended due to the salt content!
  • Social emotional: this is a lovely way to spend time together. I like to think of it as a lower stakes version of baking!
  • Making connections to the wider world: In this instance, making a nest but play dough can really be adapted for so many small world activities!
  • Listening skills: Via verbal instructions.

an invitation to play with homemade pumpkin spice play dough

Age Recommendations:

As mentioned previously, my daughter was just over 2 years old when I first made play dough WITH her. Before that, she just played with the batches I made up.

You should make sure that your child is past the stage where they put everything in their mouths. This will depend on the child. With my daughter, I could do all of these activities with her from around the age of 12 months, yet her younger brother was around 2.5 when he stopped putting everything in his mouth!

To note, until your child gets used to these types of activities, you can absolutely guarantee a gigantic mess. This is partly because of the development of fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Don’t worry though, the more they are exposed to sensory / messy play, the tidier they eventually become!

Regardless of age, this activity should be done under supervision.


Activity Ideas for Homemade Pumpkin Spice Play Dough

Play dough is such a brilliant resource for building hand strength and fine motor skills. Even if you child simply squishes and rolls the dough, it will be an excellent activity!

Cafe Play

To boost speech and language skills, try adding your homemade pumpkin spice dough to a cafe scene. As you can see in the photo above, we also added takeaway coffee cups and nature treasures:

Making Homemade pumpkin spice play dough pie

All you need for this is a cake pan or muffin tin to recreate a pumpkin pie or seasonal favourite. We tend to add buttons and use stampers to decorate.

Print Making

Use pinecones, leaves, animal figurines or stampers to explore the prints left in the homemade pumpkin spice dough. Whilst mark making might seem simple enough, it’s actually a precursor to writing in the future.

As part of an Invitation

Using a snack platter filled with loose parts can really help inspire your child to get more creative.

Watch the video on Pinterest for an example of how this can look.


Well, there you have it! A whole array of activities that will not only make playtime a creative affair but also fill your home with the delicious aroma of autumn. Making homemade pumpkin spice play dough is not only a fun craft; it’s a gateway to hours of imaginative play for your children. Plus, it brings that comforting seasonal scent right into your playroom.

So, next time you’re looking for an engaging, sensory-rich activity that combines the joy of crafting with the magic of play, consider whipping up a batch of homemade pumpkin spice play dough. Trust me; it’ll be a hit with kids and adults alike! Happy crafting and playing!

I hope this helps you with your blog post! Feel free to adapt these suggestions and the conclusion as you see fit.

Share your version

If you try this recipe in a play activity, I’d love to see it. You can do so by commenting below this blog post or send me an email to


Autumn Blog posts to read next:

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt story basket

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt pre-writing skills  activity 

21 Autumn Ideas for the Entire Family

Autumn Activities for Kids: 25 Playful Prompts


Are you currently planning all things Autumn?

If you enjoyed this hammering pumpkins activity idea, you might just like my exclusive membership, ‘How I drink my Coffee Hot’ too. The membership costs just $5 per month and you get access to 10 mini courses on a range of topics including sensory play, play spaces and starting school. Here are some membership posts that you might enjoy:

Autumn at Home Art and Sensory Camp

Family Rhythms for Autumn

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Sian Thomas
an image of This Playful Home founder, Sian Thomas. The photo includes a photo of her daughter when she was around 18 months old

I’m Siân (rhymes with yarn), a play advocate, proud parent to three, and former teacher. My mission is to infuse more joy and less overwhelm into the lives of parents. Discover play-based activities with me that not only make learning FUN but also forge deep connections with your young learners, creating memories to cherish forever.