Spiced Salt Dough Decorations

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Create colorful salt dough decorations filled with the spices of autumn! Making salt dough is a sensory, STEM, and art activity all in one. Your child will experience the sensation of mixing together dry and wet ingredients, see a chemical reaction when the dough is heated and hardened in the oven, and get to express their creativity by decorating the salt dough in the end.

What We’re Learning & Skills We’re Building 

  • Creative expression – using your imagination to make art 
  • Early chemistry – heating gooey dough in the oven causes it to become a solid “cookie”
  • Fine motor skills – holding and using tools such as spoons and paintbrushes
  • Measurement – using spoons and cups to add the correct amount of ingredients to the dough recipe 


Safety: Please closely supervise children around the oven and use oven mitts to prevent burns. This dough is for decoration, NOT for consumption.



  • 1½ – 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • ¾ cup warm water 
  • 1 tsp cooking oil 
  • 1 tsp nutmeg (for brown color and scent)
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon (for scent)
  • Mixing bowl and mixing spoon
  • Food coloring or liquid watercolor paints 
  • Baking sheet lined w/ parchment paper
  • (Optional) Rolling pin 
  • Cookie/biscuit cutters, plastic knives, or homemade stencils for making shapes 
  • (Optional) Pencil, tempera paint, paintbrushes, and string (all for decorating)

Making the Salt Dough 

  1. Measure the flour and the salt, then pour them into the mixing bowl. Measure the spices, add them to the bowl, and mix everything together. 
  2. Measure out the warm water and add in 1 tsp of cooking oil. Gradually pour them into the bowl and mix them with the dry ingredients. 
  3. Combine the ingredients until the dough holds together and is somewhat sticky. If it’s so sticky that it sticks on your fingers, mix in a little more flour.
  4. Divide the dough into 3 equal-size balls. Add a few drops of food coloring or liquid watercolor paint to each ball (use a different color for each ball so you have 3 colors of dough). Push and squeeze the dough to spread the color evenly.
  5. Flatten the dough using your hands or a rolling pin until it’s about ¼” thick. 
  6. Use cookie cutters, plastic knives, or homemade stencils to create shapes in the dough.

Baking & Decorating the Salt Dough 

  1. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. 
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or lightly grease the baking sheet with oil).
  3. (Optional) Use a pencil to poke a small hole near the edges of the unbaked shapes if you’d like to make them into ornaments. 
  4. Place the dough shapes on the baking sheet. Bake them for 1½–2 hours. Check every 15–20 minutes and rotate the pan so all the shapes bake evenly. When the shapes are hard, remove them from the oven.
  5. (Optional) Once they’re cool, paint and decorate the shapes. If you made holes, tie string through them so the shapes can be hung up.  

Storage: Salt dough decorations should be stored in a cool, dry place to be reused in the future. They can also be composted (if no paint or other decorations were used).