Play dough and I have a love/hate relationship. I love that it is a excellent tool for learning, great for sensory development, and entertains the tiny hands in my house for hours (yes, hours). But it can be messy and [the brand name kind especially] dries out so easily.
Everyone [my mom and sister] always tell me to just make my own. It's so easy, less expensive, and quite frankly, better play dough.
I also discovered Moon Dough at my son's preschool. It looks a lot like play dough but doesn't flake off, dry out, or leave a weird residue on my table (what-the-what??). Yeah. It's awesome.
For less than $15 and 15 minutes (okay, 30 if you have "helpers"), I made Moon Dough (amount equivalent to about 8 regular sized containers) and Play Dough (amount equivalent to about 16 regular sized containers).
2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
2 Tablespoons cream of tartar
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups of boiling water
Mix all ingredients together except water. Add food coloring to boiling water and gradually stir in boiling water until it is fairly well mixed and sticky. Once cooled, knead the sticky out and play with this dough for months. I usually make two batches, mostly because I let each kid pick a color. :) So 1 batch makes the equivalent of 8 containers of the store bough stuff, 2 batches makes the equivalent of 16.
1 part hair conditioner (or "air" conditioner as my son says)
2 parts corn starch
Mix food coloring with hair conditioner (or just leave it the color of the conditioner. I use Vo5 brand because it is $0.77. Sold.), then mix in with corn starch until you get the right consistency. The moon dough should not be flaky or dry, but stiff enough to be easily molded. The best part of this stuff is it smells SO GOOD. And it is not messy at all, leaves no residue on hands or surfaces. I love it. I'm currently obsessed.