Wacky Sacks


Squeeze, throw, mold & play!

For those of you with confused looks on your faces wondering what the HECK “Wacky Sacks” are, here is a little background about how they came about:

My MIL recently returned from touring Europe, (I know, sad life!) and she brought home these little “stress ball” things from some vendors on the streets and she gave one to each of my kids. At first glance, they don’t look like anything special, but wait til you get your little hands on them… they are ADDICTING to play with!

All week I would find one of these lying on the floor and I would begin playing with it while I watched TV or chatted with family and friends. It keeps your hands busy and it just feels FUN! But without fail, as soon as my son or daughter would see me playing with their toy, they would want it back. I found myself wanting one of my own that no one could take away from me, so the wheels in my head started turning and upon examining it I said to myself, “I can make that!” …so I did. Except I made it even BETTER!

The stress balls from Europe were balloons filled with flour, and while flour is very cheap, a couple of them popped after too much use and there was flour EVERYWHERE! My creations don’t use flour. They use Play Dough. (genius, I know!) Here is a tutorial so you can make them too.


Materials Needed:

  • Play Dough
  • 12″ latex balloons
  • Sharpie Marker
You can buy everything you need at the dollar store!
  1. Roll out your play dough into a long, thin line. (I use one tub of dough per balloon)
  2. Stretch your balloon as wide as you can and stuff the play dough inside. (Adults can do this themselves, but kids will need help with this part.)
  3. Press the filled balloon to make it flat and get as much air out as possible. Tie it off with a knot.
  4. Add a face using your sharpie.

….. and that’s it!!!

My father-in-law was the one who named these “Wacky Sacks”.

They are fun, easy to make, mess free and quite addicting!

We even made “homes” for them- click HERE to see how.

This post originally published on Somewhat Simple in October 2009

Wife, mom of 5, and creator of Somewhat Simple, Stephanie has a passion to create and inspire. She is an Orange County transplant who is now enjoying life in Phoenix, AZ. She enjoys traveling, shopping, organizing, cooking and creating simple projects for her home and family.
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  1. Nancy Jacobs Basketmaster says:

    That's cool. I've seen these filled with cornstarch but not playdough. When they would pop, cornstarch would be everywhere! Playdough is much more practical.

  2. Lacie @ Creative Attempts says:

    we are doing this today for a preschool project for sure thank you so much!!!

  3. Rebecca D. says:

    Those are adorable! Now that's the sort of souvenir I'd love!

  4. So creative! And fun too. I think I should make these to just get rid of my playdough. These are way less messy and look really fun :)

  5. OH so cute!

  6. These are so cool! I am going to have to make these with my boys!

  7. raising4boys says:

    Love your blog! Glad I found you from Michelle. Can't wait to see the finished Master Bedroom :)

  8. Does it eventually get hard or does the balloon keep the playdough soft?

    • Lindsay says:

      I would imagine if the playdough were not exposed to the air that it would keep it’s freshness. They keep it in the stores for ages in those plastic containers. :)

  9. Thanks so much for the awesome, creative idea!! I made a practice one yesterday and can't put it down. I'll be using the idea later this month at work as a team-building activity!

  10. These are adorable!

  11. Kalleigh Hathaway says:

    My son and I made some today for Christmas presents for his father's family. We were all giggles in trying to get the play-dough into the balloons! Great activity – and so affordable thanks to the dollar store!!

  12. Trasie Bressler says:

    Hello! I just stumbled upon your blog today. Love it!!! I can't wait to look around some more.

    I am in charge of a craft at my childs school for the Christmas Party and I was wondering if you could tell me how much play dough you put in each balloon. Did it take a whole large can per balloon? Thanks so much!

  13. Steph @ somewhatsimple says:

    I used a whole big container of playdough for each balloon.

  14. Stephanie Lynn says:

    Thanks so much for the tutorial – I will be making some of these little guys!

  15. We just made a few of these today. The girls love them! They'd be great party favors too.

  16. Natalie Simons says:

    This is a fab idea, def going to try it with my LG

  17. Loving the playdough idea. Both my kids had one of these off the street vendors in Venice, Italy. Filled with flour, which got EVERYWHERE when they eventually broke (like in my daughter's bed!) But they were SUCH fun while they lasted. Thanks for the tip!

  18. Just this... Alice says:

    I know some people getting these for Christmas for sure. Thanks for sharing.

  19. I saw these on pinterest and jumped up to make them right then! Such a great idea, thanks! I posted mine on my blog and linked back to your post.

  20. Wonderfull activity!!!

  21. I found this on pinterest and I just made some – thank you! They are terrific!

  22. Deana Truitt says:

    Hi- I just stumbled across these on the Pinterest site. I have a question on how to tie them off , do you cut the end of it off after you tie it off?? My director at pre-school is asking me too many questions. I am like just let me make them already LOL. I did cut one off today and a friend got it open quickly , they are quick when they are 3 and I thought maybe I was not supposed to cut it just tie it and leave it.

    Deana Truitt

  23. Debbie Christensen says:

    I made one today for my 3 year old preschool class. We were painting with balloons filled with all kinds of things— rice, buttons, beads, macaroni, etc. The most popular was the balloon filled with play-do! I will be making many more for the kids to manipulate and play with. I will decorate those with faces and stand back and watch what happens! Thank you for the idea!!

  24. Hi! Thanks for sharing this fun activity. I used it in a busy bag exchange I recently hosted with some friends. I shared your activity and our swap on my blog. http://sstorywindow.blogspot.com/2011/10/toddler-time-busy-bag-series-part-2.html

  25. I never thought about using playdough. Have created these with flour but there is…eventually…a bit of a mini disaster when the balloon gets a bit too much use. :-) I will definitely try it with playdough! Thanks for the idea!

  26. Can you please tell me what size balloon you used?? I tried making some with “standard” size balloons and they kept turning out funny/pointy shaped and for the life of me could not get them more rounded…my husband thinks I need to be using larger balloons…

  27. GREAT idea, i love this!!! Doing this with my kids today. Thanks so much for sharing!

  28. Teddi Kella - Special Education Teacher says:

    I am so excited to try these! I have used sand before and it did not work that well. I have a son & many students with ADHD and this is a quiet way to have them do something with there hands. I have a student with anxiety too that would help sooth him. Thanks so much for sharing. BTW, I found this through a pin on pinterest.


  29. Lyndsay says:

    Thank you for posting these! They were so fun to make!! :) I made mine into bunnies for Easter gifts. Thanks to my husband we found an easier (one person) way to fill the balloons.. If you would like to check it out I will leave a link!! Thanks again!! These are great!! http://lyndsaybsjourney.blogspot.com/2012/04/thank-you-pinterest-modeling-dough.html

  30. These look great! I am going to make some to keep my kids busy while I work. Can I used homemade play dough, or should it just be the store bought stuff?

    Thanks for posting!


  31. How do you attach the pompoms?

  32. Hey, I am making these for a busy bag exchange, and I made the first batch and the next day the balloons all broke open really easily. I was wondering if you were careful not to buy latex balloons because of the oil in the playdough, or if this is only a problem I am having as nobody else on any website I can find has had this problem! Thanks!

  33. This is a great idea for older children. However as an early childhood educator I would caution anyone giving this to young children. First off in many states it is illegal to use any balloons in a preschool. Liscensing does not allow them. As a mom I wouldn’t give this to my yougest because she still mouths things. it is too easy for her to get a piece of balloon stuck in her throat before anyone realized it was broken, especially because the playdoh will hold the shape of the balloon. It wouldn’t pop as you would expect a balloon to.

  34. This seems like they are way less messy then the sand filled ones when I was younger. I remember them getting holes in them and then having to toss them or stick tape on the hole. Just made a bigger mess. I think my sons going to love this.

  35. Just wondering if you ever found out for sure if the play dough dries up an hardens the balloons? Also, did you use latex balloons or what kind did you use? What size were the balloons? Hoping to make these for Christmas!

  36. We made similar ones for juggling, but used birdseed and put 3 balloons on each one. It was a year down the road before any of them broke. (We had several around all ages of kids.)

  37. belsham1 says:

    Is there an easy way to get the playdough into the balloons? I am making these with home made play dough. I hope the kids love them. I just found this on Pintrest. Love This idea

  38. commercial play doh comes in a variety of sizes. what exactly is a large container? thanks in advance for the info.

  39. Janet Mayer says:

    I absolutely love this. I was looking for ideas for our “busy bags” for church and stumbled on these. I had some Crayola foam clay on hand and lots of balloons. It works marvelously. Not too stiff, still pretty pliable, and was mostly a cinch getting into the balloons. Two sets of hands definitely worked better than one. I put the balloon entirely over my hand, inside out. Grabbed half a package of foam clay into my fist. I asked a co-worker to work the balloon back over my fist and we had an almost finished product. We tied them off, snipped the excess and then I worked a second balloon over that one for added security. I have not tried non-latex balloons as I would have preferred, but I fear they would fall apart easier. Has anyone tried them? Anyway, I am ready to see if the kids get good use out of them, or if the adults will be squeezing them throughout the service. :) Thanks for the great idea.

  40. Crystal says:

    These are super cute and fun!! I think even my teenagers would have fun with this. Pinned it! Thanks so much :)

  41. monique says:

    I made these they are fun but……..I used the fun dough from the dollar tree and we found them to be a little ‘tougher’ and harder to squeeze. Still played with them just wondering if there isnthat much of a difference with playdough and. Wonder if the crayola dough would work?

    Thanks would love to hear opinions

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Monique,
      I have made them using the dollar store play dough and the actual Play Dough brand that I got at Target or WalMart and I didn’t notice a difference in the consistency, but if the dollar store play dough was harder to squeeze, I’d try something else. You never know how old the dough is from the dollar store, so it could have been drier than the one I used.

  42. Made one today for my 3 yo and I have played with it almost all day! My 5 yo wants one now too. Guess we’ll be making more!

    Thanks so much!