How to Make Lavender Playdough

Lavender playdough is one of our favourite go-to activities for calmer play. Not only does it smell gorgeous, but it looks pretty too!

Now that lavender season is over (late June to mid August, in case you’re wondering), it’s the perfect time to think about using some lavender in your play activities. In our version, we used dried lavender to scent the playdough because it was growing in our garden. However, essential oils could be used as an alternative – you just need to be cautious using oils with children under 3 and I recommend you read the safety advice at the end of this post.

Sensory play is not only a fun, engaging activity for little ones, but it also plays a crucial role in their cognitive and physical development. While there are many commercial products designed for sensory play, nothing beats a DIY project – mainly because you know exactly what the ingredients are!

Lavender is known for its calming properties, and its gentle scent, combined with the tactile experience of rice creates a sensory play material that’s perfect for relaxation and learning. Read on to learn how you can make lavender playdough using items from your kitchen.

the photograph shows a bush of vibrant purple lavender

Creating homemade playdough is a delightful and aromatic activity that kids and adults alike can enjoy. If you’re looking for a fun and creative project that not only keeps little hands busy but also engages the senses, then you’ve come to the right place.

In this blog post, I’ll share how to make lavender playdough, a soothing and scented twist on the classic playdough recipe. Lavender playdough is not only a sensory delight but also offers the added benefits of aromatherapy, making it a perfect addition to your collection of DIY sensory activities.

the image shows purple lavender playdough with an assortment of natural resources including a seed pod and rosemary. Also featured are gemstones and some australian animals

Ingredients needed to make lavender playdough :

Before we dive into the instructions, gather these simple and readily available ingredients:

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour: Provides the base for your playdough.
  • 1 cup of salt: Helps to preserve the playdough and create a pliable texture.
  • 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar: Acts as a stabilizer and improves the playdough’s elasticity.
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil: Adds moisture and softness to the dough.
  • 2 cups of water: The liquid component necessary for the dough.
  • Purple food coloring: To give the playdough its lavender hue.
  • Lavender essential oil: For a calming and fragrant experience.*
  • Dried lavender buds (optional): These will add texture and a delightful natural touch to the playdough.

You can also view our basic playdough recipe here

an overhead image of a natural playdough box which includes lavender playdough

How to make Lavender Playdough

Follow these simple steps to make your lavender playdough:

  1. Mix Dry Ingredients: In a saucepan, combine the all-purpose flour, salt, and cream of tartar.
  2. Add Wet Ingredients: Over low heat, add the vegetable oil and water to the saucepan. Stir continuously until the mixture starts to come together.
  3. Add Color and Scent: As the mixture begins to solidify, add a few drops of purple food coloring and several drops of lavender essential oil. Continue stirring until the playdough reaches your desired lavender color and emits a calming aroma.
  4. Knead the Dough: Remove the mixture from the saucepan once it has formed a dough-like consistency. Be cautious as it may be hot. Allow it to cool slightly before kneading.
  5. Optional: Add Lavender Buds: For an extra sensory experience, knead in some dried lavender buds into your playdough. These will release their soothing scent as you play.
  6. Store: Once your lavender playdough has cooled completely, store it in an airtight container or ziplock bag to keep it fresh and pliable.


Benefits of Making Playdough:

Creating lavender playdough offers a range of benefits beyond just a fun sensory experience:

  1. Calming Aromatherapy: Lavender is well-known for its soothing and relaxing properties. As your child plays with lavender-scented playdough, they can benefit from the calming effects of this fragrant herb.
  2. Creativity and Imagination: Playdough encourages imaginative play, allowing children to shape and mold their own creations. It’s an excellent tool for enhancing fine motor skills and creativity.
  3. Stress Relief: For adults, kneading playdough can be a therapeutic stress-reliever. It can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
  4. Cost-Effective: Homemade playdough is not only fun but also budget-friendly. You can make a fresh batch whenever you like, customized to your preferred colors and scents.

the photograph shows two different natural playdough balls that have been turned into cute critters by a 6 year old girl

Important Safety Precautions when using essential oils in lavender playdough

Before making lavender sensory rice, let’s address some safety concerns. Essential oils are powerful, and while lavender is often considered one of the safest oils, there’s  a few things you should consider:

  1. Dilution: When using essential oils, a little goes a long way. In this activity, we’re only using a few drops diluted in a large amount of rice, which should be safe for most children. However, if your child is sensitive to scents or has allergies, consult a healthcare provider if need be.
  2. Supervised Play: Always supervise children during sensory play activities, especially when introducing new materials.
  3. Skin Test: Before fully diving into sensory play, it’s a good idea to let your child touch a small amount of the lavender-scented rice to ensure there’s no skin irritation.
  4. Ingestion Concerns: While it’s unlikely that a child would ingest a significant amount of this scented rice, it’s worth mentioning that essential oils should not be ingested without consulting a healthcare provider.
  5. Quantity Matters: Reports about the unsafe nature of lavender are typically associated with undiluted or large quantities of the oil. When used responsibly, as in this activity, the risk is generally considered low.

In addition to these safety concerns, there’s some evidence that lavender oil may interact with hormones in boys. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007 found that repeated use of products containing lavender oil or tea tree oil may spur breast growth in prepubertal boys. This is a rare side effect, but it is important to be aware of it if you are considering using lavender oil with your child.

It is important to note that the study was small and did not prove that lavender oil causes breast growth in boys. More research is needed to confirm this link.

Also note that the study focused on oils and not dried lavender. Dried lavender is considered safe for children. It is not as concentrated as essential oil and is less likely to cause any side effects.

This information is not intended to scare you, but to simply help you to make an informed decision about the play you do with your child. Note that the study talks about repeated use of lavender oil rather than occasional use in sensory play.

For reference, we only use lavender sensory playdough around once per month, at the very most – this is not an everyday activity!

Overall, lavender oil is considered safe for use with children over the age of 3. However, it is important to use it with caution and to follow the safety guidelines listed above. If you have any concerns, talk to your child’s doctor.


Creating lavender playdough for sensory play is a quick and rewarding project. The calming scent of lavender adds an extra layer of sensory experience that can help in calming an active toddler or simply making playtime a little more special.

We’d love to hear how your lavender sensory rice turned out and how your child enjoyed it! Feel free to share your experiences and photos with us.


More Sensory Play Activities

If you enjoyed this blog post on how to make lavender playdough, you might also enjoy some of our other sensory play ideas too:

20 Simple Toddler Play Ideas for the IKEA Flisat Table 

5 Benefits of Sensory Play + How to Get Started 

10 sensory play ideas for Autumn 

Sunflower Sensory Play

How to make Lavender sensory rice 

How to make apple playdough + 15 ideas to try 

Do you need more help with sensory play?

Sensory play is more than just the activity itself. If you are worried about starting sensory play (or you hate it), I have just the course for you!

Head on over to my membership, ‘How I drink my Coffee Hot’, to access the mini course ‘Starting Sensory Play’.

Topics covered include:

  • The importance of Sensory Play
  • How to plan and prepare for sensory play
  • Do you need to use food in sensory play?
  • Essential sensory play resources
  • Simple Sensory play activities + 80 page guide
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.