Playdough kits: I’m addicted to making them and the kids are addicted to playing with them.  For an upcoming family trip to the beach, I decided to surprise the kiddos with an ocean-themed playdough and a bounty of pirate-themed items to play with during the visit.

Cranky kids, tired from a long day at the beach, instantly calmed when I pulled out this pirate themed playdough kit.  It turned out to be the perfect mellow play activity to end a busy summer day.  And for more playdough fun, check out our playdough mats in our shop!

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Making Ocean Playdough

For the ocean-colored dough, I simply whipped up a batch of my favorite soft and squishy one-pot playdough with one summery modification.  Instead of vegetable oil, I decided to use a coconut-scented conditioner.  Coconut scent instantly sends me back to my childhood days on the beach when coconut tanning oil was the norm (gasp!).

For this dough, I first grabbed my supplies:

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 3/4 cups of salt
  • 6 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1/4-1/2 cups of coconut conditioner or 3 T vegetable oil
  • food coloring {we prefer the vibrant gel food color}
  • 3 cups of water

I simply threw all the ingredients in a large sauce pot, whisked until smooth, then cooked over low heat until the dough pulled away from the sides.  I always remove my pot from the heat when the playdough still has a few sticky spots as it will continue to cook as it cools.

Once it cooled, I divided the dough into 3 sections and added several drops of food dye to each ball.  I dyed one blue, one aqua and one green for seaweed or plants.

Super squishy, easy to make ocean and sand playdough recipe.

Sand Playdough

Next, I made a batch of amazing sand playdough using:

  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of fine beach sand
  • 1/4 cup of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup of coconut conditioner or 2 T vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup of boiling water

I sifted some play sand from our sandbox to get the finest grained sand and used it in this easy no-cook playdough recipe.  Our sandbox playdough came out looking a dark gray color so to lighten it to look like beach sand, I added 2 drops of yellow and brown food coloring.

(Alternatively, you can purchase white play sand or beach sand online or at the craft store for your playdough kit.)

I simply mixed all the ingredients well in a large heat-proof bowl. I added the boiling water, mixed with a spoon, then allowed it to cool.

Once cool you can knead it a few times until combined, although this dough feels so good to touch, you may find yourself kneading it just for fun.  The coconut conditioner gave the grainy sand dough the most amazing texture, reminding me a bit of kinetic sand.

The kiddos at the house ranged from 3-7 and were both boys and girls, so I wanted to include enough loose parts and accessories to keep them engaged for a while.  I thought about various ocean themes (mermaids, fishing, sea creatures) but pirates seemed like the obvious choice for our kids.  I simply raided my daughter’s Playmobil for the pirates and assorted greenery.  I picked through my kids’ shell and rock collections for real ocean elements and  grabbed a few plastic marine animals I had.

I sorted all of the little pieces into the 6 small compartments of a  Sterilite divided case. To prevent the playdough from drying out, I placed each set of 3 balls in large baggies (not pictured) before storing them in the large compartments on each side.

Awesome pirate themed playdough kit. Easy homemade sand and ocean playdough plus fun extras.

Arrgh You Ready to Play?


Our kids are never ready to leave the beach and this day was no exception.  Of course as soon as they were off the sand, the exhaustion hit and the whines began.  Before the kiddos could even change out of their swim suits, I plopped the kit down on the table outside and let them continue their beach play.


Immediately, the stories started flying, islands were formed, storms raged and treasure was buried and found.  They were all smiles!

The Ultimate Guide to Playdough

And while you’ve made your playdough, check out our awesome playdough mats in our shop for some more fun!

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  1. I had the same question about the conditioner. Hair conditioner? Does it have to be coconut, or does that just help the “beachy-ness” of the whole thing? Wondering too about other themes for the boxes, what a cute idea. My daughter is *just* on the almost-too-old-for-playdough end of things, but I think she would love this for our summer road trips.

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Thanks for reaching out!
      You’re correct, the recipe calls for coconut hair conditioner or veggie oil.
      We love using coconut conditioner as it smells like the beach!
      I hope this helps!

  2. What happens when they are done? Do you try and separate the colors or just throw it all away? Do they play with all the play dough and the box another day or is this just a one time thing? The idea is so fun I would want then to do it again.

    1. Great question, Monica! I always let my kids mix the colors so by the end of a play session, everything usually winds up in a big blob but they don’t mind one bit. They use the mixed up playdough to build new things the next day. If you decide to give it a try, take a quick pic and tag me on social. I’d love to see your kit! 🙂

  3. Hi! I love this kid sensory play doh themed idea! I was wondering what container you used to fill the items that is displayed in the photo? And did the container keep the play doh air tight and not dry out?

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