Mildly Messy Texture Dough Recipes

Do your kids enjoy exploring new textures? Or maybe you have a child who resists textures, but who needs to get a little more comfortable with them? These three play dough recipes are a great way for them to start feeling (and smelling!) new things.

They will leave hands a little messier than regular play dough, but that’s part of the experience.

Each of these doughs are easy to put together because there’s no cooking involved. Because of the ingredients and how they come together, they aren’t long-lasting doughs. They’re small batches though, so plan on playing with them for a couple days and then tossing them. This also makes them great for adding even more texture. But more on that later.

Let’s make some dough!

Coffee Dough Ingredients


COFFEE DOUGH – This dough has a gritty texture and a delightful smell.


1 cup used coffee grounds
2/3 cup corn meal
1/4 cup salt
~2/3 cup water
~2/3 cup flour

Mixing coffee texture dough

Mix first three ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Then begin adding water and flour in small amounts until it reaches a dough consistency.

Stirring with a spoon will only go so far with this. You’ll have a better idea of how much flour and water you’ll need after you start kneading it.

Coffee Texture Dough

The grit of this dough makes it feel a little like rough sand as you break it apart, but then it comes together and can be smoothed into a ball too!

Oatmeal dough ingredients

OATMEAL DOUGH – Technically, this dough is edible, so it’s great for very young children.


1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup water

Note: you can also add food coloring to this, but I love the natural color!

Mixing oatmeal texture dough

Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. Knead the dough until smooth, adding more flour as needed.

Oatmeal play dough

The wonderful thing about this dough is that it really feels a lot like working with bread dough. It’s great for letting littles play cooking. Especially if you give them some extra flour to work into the dough ball. Cinnamon would also make a great addition!

Sand play dough ingredients

SAND DOUGH – This dough is smoother than you’d expect!


1 cup clean play sand or colored art sand
3/4 cup flour
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon cooking oil

Mixing sand dough

Mix all the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Knead the dough until smooth, adding more flour as needed.

Depending on the consistency you want you may want to add a lot more flour for a stiffer dough, or use a little less and you’ll have something that resembles a sand slime. (It’s delightfully sticky!)

Sand Dough

Because this has sand in it, I do recommend that you knead and play with your sand dough on a protected surface. We don’t want fancy countertops getting scratched!

Keep these recipes handy by printing them from this handy PDF: Texture Dough Recipes

For all of these doughs, you can extend the play with extra elements. Try adding twigs, leaves, shells, and more. I like to do this with regular play dough too, but I usually wait until it’s about ready to be tossed out. Try adding in rice, bird seed, sequins, or other items to add texture.

You can have a full-blown sensory experience!