If I could think of one word to describe this Easy DIY Lemon Cloud Dough Recipe it would be…DELICIOUS! No, it’s not edible, but this recipe for cloud dough is smooth, scented, and simply wonderful. Children enjoy using their hands and discovering with their senses through sensory play. The DIY cloud dough with conditioner offers open-ended, summer themed sensory play that your children will love. Let’s celebrate summer with all of our senses!

DIY cloud dough with a summer lemon theme.

Recommended Grade Level:

Lemon Cloud Dough Supplies:

  • 2 cups cornstarch
  • 1 cup white conditioner
  • Yellow food coloring
  • Lemon resin flatback buttons
  • Mixing bowl
  • Spoon
  • Plastic mat
  • Optional: lemon scented oil for slime

Find even more engaging activities in the Life Over C’s shop!

Learning Through Sensory Activities For Preschoolers

homemade cloud dough


Preschool sensory bin ideas can be never ending. Making gluten free cloud dough with cornstarch and hair conditioner produces an absolutely silky texture that kids (and adults) will be drawn to.

Essentially, this is a 2 ingredient cloud dough recipe, with the lemon oil being optional. However, I highly recommend adding the oil to activate a whole other set of senses. Other ingredients can be altered as well, for example, try corn flour instead of corn starch.

You can make the easy cloud dough recipe with your child as a science/cooking experiment, and then they can explore for as long as they are interested in this lemon activity for preschool.

  • What are the lemon cloud dough ingredients?
  • What happens when you knead the dough?
  • Why do the lemons make a print on the cloud dough?
  • What other mixtures have you made before?
Place plastic lemon toys into the cloud dough for kids to play with.

What Can Preschoolers Learn While Playing With A Homemade Play Dough Recipe?

cloud dough with only two ingredients


You can use vocabulary and the DIY cloud dough activity to learn about mixtures or solutions:

  • Mixture
  • Ingredients
  • Change
  • Texture
Corn starch, conditioner, and lemon buttons.

Why Is It Important For Kids To Learn Through Sensory Play?

Children are naturally curious about everything around them. Exploring with cloud dough is just another way to activate the senses while exploring any way they would like. Whether you buy store cloud dough or make your own, the sensory play is beneficial.

Exploring Senses

Sensory play is a great way to help children learn to use their senses and develop new ideas. What does the dough feel like? Can you tell me something else that might feel like cloud dough?

Connect with Summer

A lemon theme is just a fun way to celebrate and connect with summer. What other food and drinks are associated with summer? Get kids thinking about summer classics, like ice cream, picnics, and beach days.

Understand Mixtures

Learning how to make cloud dough with conditioner and corn starch is a basic example of a mixture, where ingredients come together to form something else.

Building Friendships

Let’s play in the lemon cloud dough together! Social play is so important for early learning. Children will learn how to take turns, social communication skills, and basic friendship norms.

How To Make The Lemon Cloud Dough Recipe For Preschool

How to Make This Homemade Cloud Dough

Step One:

Measure 1 cup conditioner into a bowl. Add in 2 cups of corn starch and mix/knead well.

Mix the conditioner and cornstarch to create the cloud dough mixture.

Step Two:

Add a few drops of yellow food coloring and continue to mix/knead. If desired, add a few drops of lemon scented oil. If the dough is too sticky, add another tablespoon of corn starch until desired consistency is reached.

Add yellow food coloring to the cloud dough mixture.

Step Three:

Remove the dough from the bowl and place on the plastic mat. Add in small plastic lemons. Children can hide the lemons, find them, press them, and arrange them any way they would like to.

Completed lemon cloud dough for children to play with.

Step Four:

Let your children explore. While they are playing, talk about summer activities they would like to do, or other summer food and drink they like, or anywhere the conversation takes you!

Completed lemon cloud dough for children to play with.

More Food Theme Activities!

Don’t stop here! Seriously, what kid doesn’t love playing with their food? So, naturally, learning with their food has to be a favorite too…

Get even more food activities below!

>>101 Food Activities for Kids<<

Alter Ingredients

If you want to get more into the scientific side of the mixture, make a second batch of cloud dough with different ingredients. Use baby oil or vegetable oil instead of conditioner to compare/contrast.

Make Lemonade

A perfect extension activity after your child is done playing with the dough is to make homemade lemonade to sip! This is a tasty example of a mixture you can all enjoy.

Count the Lemons

Easily convert this to a math activity by counting the lemons as they are placed in the dough, or place them first and then fish them out and place them onto a ten frame mat to see how many are there.

author avatar
Kim Staten Owner and Curriculum Designer
Kim Staten is a mother of four children ages 20, 19, 16, and 12. Kim has taught at the preschool, kindergarten and early elementary levels for 16 years. With extensive experience working with special needs children, including her own children with special needs (Rett Syndrome, autism, anxiety, and ADHD), she creates hands-on curricula and activities that are great for working with children of all abilities in the classroom and at home. Hands-on, accessible activities are her passion.Β 

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