21 Playdough Activities

preschool playdough ideasPlaying with playdough is our go to activity. We add bugs, googly eyes, buttons… use cookie cutters, scissors, even a garlic press while playing. Playdough is wonderful for fine motor development and creative play. I like it because it’s relaxing! Here are 21 playdough activities perfect for your preschooler.

 

Recipes for homemade playdough and my favorite Gluten Free Playdough

Playdough Sculptures
Playdough Bug Fossils
Footprints In The Snow – Winter Playdough
Learn The ABCs with Playdough

toy prints playdough
Playdough Lego Prints
Fill In The Blank Spelling With Playdough
Playdough Battleground
Playdough Bakery Pretend Play

playdough animals
Embellished Playdough Animals
Explore Emotions with Mr. Playdough Face
Fruity Scented Playdough
Digging for Buttons in Playdough

alphabet for starters
Alphabet Playdough
Playdough Kabobs – Fine Motor Fun
Silly Hair – Playdough Play
Playdough Bugs
Drinking Straws + Playdough

playdough rainbows counting, sorting , matching
Playdough Rainbow – Color Sorting
Slicing Watermelon Playdough
Practicing Cutting With Playdough
Playdough Earth

 

Playdough Bug Fossils

bug fossils playdough

 

We love playing with playdough. I think it would be a toss up between playdough and Duplo for which gets played with more at our house. This activity is not complicated but it was fun and kept my daughter super happy while we all battled stomach flu a few weeks ago. As a parent when you find something that is keeping a miserable child happy you roll with it. The trick seems to be really fantastic plastic bugs that leave very detailed imprints in the playdough. Ours were given to us years ago by a neighbor but here is an affiliate link to Amazon for the bugs if you want to check them out for yourself.

 

Gather your materials. You will need some playdough, a cutting board ( we reserve one just for playdough) and plastic bugs.playdough bug prints

I set the playdough as small balls that are ready to be pressed into disks by my little one.playdough bug prints for preschool

Next she added the bugs and pressed them in.playdough bug printing

Then pulled them off and saw the imprint.playdough fossils rainy day activity

repeat again and again and again.bug prints in playdough like fossils It’s not ground breaking but good gracious it’s FUN!play dough bug imprints for preschool

Add to the fun with books about bugs. Click through the image below for a great list.

19 books about bugs

Snowman Playdough – Easy Holiday Gifts

class christmas gift ideasInspiration strikes at the funniest times. I was at the dollar store picking up helium balloons for my son’s birthday party when I saw these little containers. Immediately I knew what I wanted to do with them. I even had the perfect ribbon at home. I wanted something to give to the other students at my daughter’s preschool class for Christmas and as as soon as I saw these containers I knew I had a winner. These snowman playdough gifts are easy to make ( especially if you skip the scarf) , and cost next to nothing. Fun and frugal!

 

Gather your materials. You will need some containers with white lids, permanent markers in orange and black, white playdough , double stick tape , scissors, and ribbon.

snowman gift containers for playdough

Start by making the playdough. I usually buy Play-Doh ( <– affiliate link to amazon if you want to buy it )  but when I need this much in one color I will make it. I used my favorite recipe(<— link to recipe if you want to make it ) and added white glitter and mint extract to it. When adding extract I usually put some on my hands and add it during the kneading until I have the right scent.

Next fill your containers. I had a helper! playdough gifts for kids

Draw the mouth and eyes on with the black marker ( make sure it’s permanent ) .snowman craft

Add the nose with orange. snowman treat container

Pop the top on and add some double stick tape on the side. This will hold the ribbon scarf on. snowman containers for playdough

Cut the ribbon at a length about one and a half times around the container. Trim the ends. snowman treat

Tie it on. This was the most time consuming part of the craft for me. snowman playdough giftI would have been done all 12 in five minutes if I didn’t add a scarf so if time is short skip it. I do think they are a super cute addition and if you have an extra 15 minutes to do it.christmas gifts you can make at home

After I was done with the scarves my daughter was still playing. She even went down to get more playdoh to fill the extra containers. I love it when an activity that is really mostly an adult one can still spark play. snowman playdough play

Books About Snowmen

Here are a few books about snowmen to go along with this activity. All of our book lists include affiliate links.

snowmen at night

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn and Mark Buehner I love this book and actually looked for 2 hours in our playroom and storage room convinced I owned it but misplaced it. I don’t. I finally sat down to read it to my daughter at her school last week. She liked the snowmen but wasn’t as into it as I suspect she will be next winter. The story is adorable but a little sophisticated for a 19 month old. My son has read it and loved it, because it taps into a child’s imagination perfectly. The author imagines a world where snowmen come to life and party at night when we are sleeping, which is why they always look a little different in the morning. I remember my son looking at me and asking ” not really right?” when we read it a few years ago. I love the whimsical illustrations with fun points of view that makes the reader feel like they are in on a real secret. Great book for preschoolers, I was a little over eager reading it with my daughter but it’s so good I couldn’t wait to. { Edited for 2013 My daughter did appreciate this and the Christmas themed book in the same series much more this year than last!}

The Biggest Snowman Ever

The Biggest Snowman Ever by Steven Kroll is a cute winter book that holds a fantastic message inside. The book tells the story of a snowman making contest in Mouseville, two little mice work so hard by themselves but it’s just not enough until they join forces. Competition is not a bad thing but sometimes cooperation is even better, I really like this book.

Snowman-in-Paradise-231x300

Snowman in Paradise by Michael Roberts is genius. There I said it. I very rarely think that of books. I like the majority of books I read and think there are so many good ones to share but I don’t want to return this one to the library, I want to keep it! The book is about a snowman from Manhattan who is glum after Christmas and wants to go on a vacation too. A magical bluebird grants his wish and he flies first class to a tropical island , with the only rule being he needs to come back in time for Christmas next year. This book is written like the traditional “Night Before Christmas” and although I thought the copy would be too long for my son at first , I was so wrong. The rhymes are unique , my favorite being :

 

In May after splashing with buckets of paint, He threw down his brush, saying, “Gauguin I ain’t.”

Even if some references are more for the adults reading it than the children listening , both parties will close the book smiling and wanting to start all over again. Grab it and see why I love it so much.

 

Fill In The Blank Spelling with Playdough

spelling for kids Learning After School is our series of short but important lessons that are big on fun and reinforce skills your kids are learning at school. They are designed not to feel like homework and if they do or if my son rates them too low ( yes he rates each and every activity we do here) I don’t post it .This simple CVC word activity lets kids explore spelling with playdough and did pass the test. I like using playdough because if you make a mistake it’s easy peasy to squish and try again.

When your kids or their teachers speak about CVC words these are the type of words they are talking about consonant- vowel- consonant.  These simple three letter words are a great place to start segmenting sounds and working on connecting known consonant sounds with various vowel sounds to create new words. This works on your child’s phonological awareness and differentiation of vowel sounds which can be a very big struggle for many kids. The playdough adds novelty which is great when you are doing activities that require practice and repetition. Here is what we did.

fill in the blank spelling supplies

Gather your materials. You will need some playdough and some letter stamps.

Divide your playdough into small mounds and flatten.fill in the blank spelling ready to play

Using your alphabet stamps stamp the first and third letters. Here are some ideas for you : c-p , b-d , m-p, w-n,  f-n, r-g, h-m , c-t  * As Casey points out in comments you shouldn’t include words ending in r for CVC words because the vowel is r controlled ( say a few words in your head cab, cap, car… to see the difference) and they don’t follow the CVC vowel pattern.  For kids still learning at this level we want them to see and recognize these patterns because it helps them learn. We don’t want to confuse them. fill in the blank spelling for kids

Next give your child the stamps with the vowels on them and ask them to make words with them. If your child is new to this activity encourage adding any vowel and take time to help them sound it out and do not worry if they create combinations that aren’t real words. If kids are more experienced give them the challenge of only creating words that have meaning. Encourage them to try out different combinations and ask themselves if it makes sense. fill in the blank spelling for kindergarten

Squish the middle letter and try again. How many words can they create? For an even greater challenge offer them the consonant stamps and make whole new combinations of letters and words. fill in the blank spelling with playdough

For another playful way to work on spelling and boosting phonological awareness try this idea from an article I wrote for Scholastic Parent’s Raise A Reader blog and this word family playdough and letter stamp activity from I Can Teach My Child .

 

Playdough Kabobs – Preschool Math & Fine Motor

playdough kabobs for kids“It’s just pretend!” is a very common phrase at our house. From my daughter telling us she is eight not three, my son yelling at imaginary troops in the backyard, and even when we set extra place settings for imaginary friends at meals, we do a lot of pretending. Often pretend play is a way for kids to practice being an adult, try on new roles, and do things that are not usually for them. This playdough activity that includes both math and fine motor skills came about because my daughter loves helping me cook dinner, especially when we are having kabobs. She is a master at skewering veggies and will often make patterns. So on a rainy day { get ready for lots of those…} we decided to grab the playdough and pretend we were making dinner and do a little learning along the way.

Gather your materials. You will need Play-Doh, skewers, a bowl, and a cookie sheet.playdough kabobs supplies I was setting up the materials shot when my daughter grabbed my phone and took her own. I don’t think it was too bad! playdoughkid
Start by rolling the playdough into balls. This is great for hand strength which is part handwriting development. playdough kabobs rolling into ballsMake a bowl full – we worked on ours together.playdough kabobs fine motor skills for kids
Next gently thread the playdough balls on. If they stab the playdough too far from the center they will fall off. If they aren’t on well just show your child to give them a squeeze.playdough kabobs for preschool
This activity naturally welcomes counting. After she was done one skewer she laid it on the cookie sheet and counted all the playdough balls.playdough kabobs counting
When she picked up the next skewer I asked if she thought she could make a pattern. So she did. She informed me that it was pink and “orange pink”.playdough kabobs patterning

Simple activities like these tap into so many different kinds of learning as well as creates a space to sit and work on something with your child.playdough kabobs on the baking sheet

 

d

Books About Food

 

everybody_cooks_rice

Everybody Cooks Rice  by Norah Dooley is a fantastic book! The book follows a sister who is looking for her brother in their San Francisco neighborhood. As she goes from door to door each neighbor invites her in to eat some of their supper. Everybody is having some sort of rice dish even though they are all from different countries. My 6 year old really enjoyed this book and understood the message well , my 3 year old sat through it no problem too. There are so many future lessons about geography, nutrition, and travel packed in this one little book! Awesome find.

eating the alphabet

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert is an alphabet book extraordinaire and perfect for a letter F eek, since it’s all about food!  Wonderful paintings of fruits and vegetables seem ultra simple and it is but somehow the way the author has pieced this simple book together is brilliant. Maybe it’s that children learn about food at the table multiple times a day and feel proud being able to identify not only some of the letters but some of the pictures too! From a teaching standpoint I love that there are both upper and lower case letters on each page! This book will grow with your child, and beware it will also make you hungry.

yum yum dim sum

Yum Yum Dim Sum by Amy Wilson Sanger is a book that makes me crave dumplings something fierce but my daughter seems to like the rhymes and pink and red colors throughout. The book explains in a zippy text all about Dim Sum . It’s a board book targeted to babies it’s really useful to use to teach children about foods they may be unfamiliar with. There is even a little appendix with Chinese words for all the items mentioned in the book like tea, rice and tarts.

 

 
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