Arts & Crafts

DIY Play Dough Sensory Stress Balls

My kids love play dough. They love it way more than I do actually. It’s probably the same in your house. No matter how hard I try to keep all the play dough contained, I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve swept and vacuumed the floor only to turn around and find even more tiny little bits stuck to the floor, the chairs, the kids’ socks, and their pants!

Despite my irritation with the mess, I know how much creative and sensory fun my kids get out of play dough. So yeah, we have cans and cans of the stuff. But over time as the colours end up all mixed together, they don’t want to play with the “yucky” ones anymore. What should we do with all the old play dough then? We could throw it out, or we could recycle it into something else. Like these fun DIY play dough stress balls!

These squeeze balls are super simple to make. I seem to always have a bag of birthday balloons hanging around the house, but if you don’t, just pick up a bag of mixed colours from the dollar store.

Stuffing a balloon is way easier with two people. Roll the neck down a bit, then use your fingers to stretch and hold the neck open while the kids drop in chunks of play dough. Fill the uninflated balloon until you have a comfortable handful. Tie the neck into a knot, making sure all the air is squeezed out.

Ta da! These DIY play dough stress balls are hours of fun for the kids to squish, squeeze, stack, and play with!

If you have an anxious kiddo, squeezing or playing with one of these in conjunction with deep breathing could help him or her feel better. Encourage your child to pay attention to the feel and texture and “give” of the squeeze ball as they play with it. The motion of squeezing and releasing the ball can also remind him or her to relax their clenched muscles and breathe deeper.

If you don’t have any store-bought play dough to spare but you’d still like to make some fun and squishy stress balls, you can always make your own homemade play dough with this simple no-cook recipe. Just mix all the ingredients together to make your own squishy dough.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cooking or baby oil

These DIY stress balls will last for a while as the balloons are pretty much airtight, but I don’t worry about it too much. Since we seem to have a never ending supply of play dough in our house, there’s always more available to make this project again.

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  • There is always a batch of unwanted/leftover play dough at our house so I love this idea! I honestly could see myself using these to de-stress as well!

  • I bought play dough and smiley face balloons from the dollar store! I look forward to making them to help with my own mental health challenges! Thank you for the article!!

  • How do you close them, do you tie them like you do when you blow up the balloon? I wish there was a way that wouldn’t show the tied knot.