There is something so soothing about playdough. Some of my favorite memories from teaching were little conversations shared with students at the playdough table. At our house we play with playdough so much that one of our kitchen drawers is filled with containers of it and fun stuff for my kids to add to the play. Below are some of my favorite playdough activities we have shared over the last 5 years here. I hope your kids have as much fun with it as we do.
Footprints In The Snow – Winter Playdough
Playdough Toy Prints
Playdough Bakery Pretend Play
Explore Emotions with Mr. Playdough Face
Digging for Buttons in Playdough
Silly Hair – Playdough Play
Drinking Straws + Playdough
Slicing Watermelon Playdough
Practicing Cutting With Playdough
Playdough Gingerbread Men
My daughter adores playdough and cooking so last week we made some simple white playdough and added snowflakes ( that promptly melted of course – duh! Add after it cools…) and then had fun playing pretend with some forest animals. This is about as simple as it gets but there are so many wonderful lesson possibilities packed in this simple play.
First we made the playdough. The recipe we used is my favorite .
Something I do with my daughter ( or the toddlers I taught when my own kids were only imaginary) is to play Simon Says before doing someting where I may have to say ” Don’t touch!” a lot. Instead of turning this activity into a negative one when I need her to not touch I simply say ” Simon says touch your nose!” As it turned out I didn’t even have to use this but we still had fun with our pre playdough making game.
She helped me mix the dry ingredients, I kneaded the dough while it was too hot for her to touch and gave her some extra flour to explore on the counter. I slipped in some glitter too.
This playdough is best after it’s chilled so we made it before nap time. Then after nap time it was ready to be played with.
I love these animal toys. They leave real footprints. We sat across the playroom table from each other and just started making prints. We looked at them, at which were bigger than the others and how many we could make from one side of the playdough to the other. Soon a storyline emerged the raccoon was saving the other animals from a “Snow bump” <– which is 2 year old speak for a snow bank. It was hilarious to watch her narrate a whole complex story line including some negotiation during the various rescues.
At this time of year with so much sparkle and wow and rush it’s a blessing to sit and be and take things slow and easy with a toddler . We’ve played this exact activity over and over and each time felt calm and connected after. Something I know most all of us can use right now.This post contains an affiliate link.
Playdough is a great fine motor activity without any bells or whistles but adding in small items like buttons, coins or beans is an easy way to make it even better. This playdough watermelon was easy to make and fun to play with and they didn’t even know I was helping them both develop their fine motor skills.
- Gather your materials. You will need some pink and green playdough as well as some black beans and a plastic knife.
- Press the black beans into the pink playdough.
- Roll into a ball.
- Flatten the green dough and cut into a semi circle. Wrap around the pink on 3 sides.
- Slice. My son loved slicing and he could do it well. My daughter ( who had woken from nap to a very excited brother chattering about watermelon) was not as into the slicing from the big watermelon. I think maybe she wanted to do it herself and her “helper” wanted to help. Does this happen at your house too?
- She did like cutting the slices into wedges though.
- She also liked picking the “seeds” out , which is fabulous for fine motor development. Just watch if they are as little as she is that they get put in a dish not the mouth.
You know those moments of parenthood when you say “never” and then a few years later you eat your words. Yeah. I said I’d never let my son play with toy guns and while I still don’t buy the actual toy guns we do allow figurines with guns, pretend play with finger guns etc… I know not every family allows it and others find there to be nothing wrong with weapon play at all. Like everything on our site use what will interest your child. I preach to follow their interests and find ways to teach using them and right now my son’s biggest interest is history , specifically WWII. This playdough activity isn’t just shooting each other it’s an invitation to play and learn.
- Gather your materials. We used plastic soldiers ( ours were specific WWII that came with an American and German flag), playdough we used every package we could find in the house, craft sticks, pompoms ( these were bombs) and your imagination.
- I just gave him the supplies and let him go.
- He built bunkers, trenches and special huts. This play is amazing fine motor work both molding the playdough and placing the small figurines.
- Later he created prisons for the POWs and I didn’t get a shot of it but we made a hill and water to make a D-Day beach.
- While playing we talked about all sorts of things. I do not want to glorify war but instead talk about the sacrifices everyone involved made, talk about why there was a war and how no matter what side the soldiers were on they have families who missed them. My husband and I have sat down together to decide what we think our son can handle as far as facts about history so when he asks us ” Tell me a story about World War Two.” we know what the other is telling him and not telling him for now.
- Don’t forget just to have fun too. I know sometimes I need to remember this . He played for at least 2 hours, stopping briefly only for lunch. More than a few times he told me ” Mommy I love history!” let’s hope he carries that through school!
Introducing children to letters doesn’t have to only use print material especially for the very young. Children learn with all their senses and it’s best to teach them using as many as we can. These simple but valuable introductory activities is what this series Alphabet For Starters is all about. My daughter who just starting to show interest in letters loved this simple sensory activity. We played and played naming letters as we pressed them into the squishy playdough. Try to avoid using this time to quiz your child on their knowledge ( I know it’s hard not to ) instead label what they are doing.
- Gather your materials. You will need some playdough ( we have great playdough recipes and even a gluten free playdough recipe) and alphabet cookie cutters.
- When starting any activity with a toddler I like to start them ready to play. I gave her a few letters to start and a hunk of playdough pressed flat.
- She started playing and naming letters immediately. She knows a handful of letters but all the ones she doesn’t are named R . I don’t tell her ” NO it’s T! This is T!” I just say something like ” You are pressing the letter T so hard into the playdough.” or ” Look at that yellow T you have.” There is no rush – just play with the letters.
- I was shocked with how long she played – it just went on and on! We grabbed more letters from the bin.
- I asked her which letters she liked and even though she said A and M she played with R way more than any other letter. It was fun to watch her explore knowing that in an instant she will be reading and writing like her brother. Savoring these simple playdough activities is such a treat.
Like this activity but you have an older sibling who wants to play too? Or a child who is already familiar with the alphabet?
Here are a few tasks for them :
- Use the cookie cutters to cut out the letters of their names.
- Give them words to cut out and spell.
- Guess how many letters they can fit in one hunk of playdough without overlapping the prints.