Playdough has to be one of the most sensory products on the planet- the perfect activity for sparking young imaginations!
For preschoolers, the brightly coloured and squidgy playdough is tantalisingly tactile and just the right size and texture for their little hands. We've come up with a selection of great playdough activities that children are bound to love.
A Few Top Tips...
Before you start, talk to your toddler and explain that playdough should not be put in the mouth (they are curious and will try)! While they're having fun, make sure to supervise play dough activities at all times.
Playdough can get everywhere so to avoid getting it on your carpet (or cat), put a messy mat on the table and newspaper on the floor or play outside.
Always keep playdough in an airtight container.
Benefits Of Playing With Playdough
Playdough is the ultimate sensory experience by; helping to develop connections in the toddler's brains, improving language, enhancing fine motor skills as well as hand-eye coordination,
This colourful dough is incredibly malleable, versatile and tactile and particularly good for children with special educational needs as it adds a fun, yet sensory element to their learning and play.
Encourage your child to lead through play and ask what they would like to make, exploring fun ideas and learning new skills without realising!
With playdough, children can learn through creative play by exploring texture and different shapes and forms.
If you are scratching your head looking for different playdough ideas - worry no more, we’ve done the research for you!
1. DIY Playdough
If you can find the time to make your own playdough it's a wonderful way to save money, and a fun and simple activity to do with the kids! The advantage of making playdough is; realistically, at some point, it will end up on the floor, it will probably go dry and colours will merge - so you will need to restock on a regular basis.
2. Creative Cutters
Let your child's imagination go wild with playdough and get together a "toolbox" consisting of; animals cookie cutters with handles (easier to use), letters, numbers, shapes, moulds, rolling pin, playdough scissors and a plastic fork and knife.
Please note: Always use care and supervision when children are using cutting tools.
Focus on different skills and games to improve and strengthen your toddler's fine motor skills, including;
Rolling with hands or a rolling pin.
Smashing with hands or a tool.
Poking with fingers or a plastic fork.
Pulling playdough apart.
Squeezing and squashing.
Pincer grip movements.
Cutting with a knife or playdough scissors (which strengthens hand muscles!).
3.Tick Tock: What Time is it?
Roll out a long thin, snake-like line and shape it into a circle, then mould the numbers from one to 12 and two hands, big and small. This is one of those games that is perfect for primary school children, who are curious about telling the time.
4. Count on Playdough
Get some number cutters and practice counting with your preschooler. Using number cutters, cut out the shapes from one to ten or roll out ten balls, then try adding them and taking them away.
For primary school children, try doing simple maths with playdough numbers. You can make up a sum and give a playdough tick if the answer is right.
5. Amazing Alphabet
If kids engage their senses, they are more likely to learn. Ideally, if they can touch and visualise the letters by moulding them, they are more likely to remember them, and have fun in the process.
Practice learning the alphabet with your preschooler, with playdough, this shouldn't be a stressful activity, so rather than doing the whole 26 letter alphabet, start with one or two letters and let your child copy the letter shape with playdough.
You can also write your son or daughter's name in playdough, get them used to recognising the letters in their name. Either use cookie cutters or mould the letters yourself. Perfect practice before starting school.
6. Mini Monsters
Experiment with different shapes and tools - with a dash of imagination, to create marvellous monsters. Buy some googly eyes, feathers and pipe cleaners to bring the little playdough monster to life.
7. Cosmos Craft
This is a simple yet fun science activity which is simply out of this world.
Create a playdough galaxy with each playdough ball representing one of the planets.
You will need a range of colours including; red, blue, white and yellow.
Start by rolling eight balls, to jog your memory; Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
Remember, Saturn has a ring around it, Mars is the red planet and earth is the most fun as you are mixing colours. You can also make the sun and show where the planets are in relation to it.
8. Rainbow Playdough
Colour mixing activities, usually mixing playdough colours, can be a no-no, but when it comes to teaching colours and how they blend to make other colours, then kids can find it really helpful!
Mould a playdough rainbow - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.
9. Playdough Pong!
This is a fun game for primary school children.
Set up five plastic cups at the end of the table in a triangle. Each cup has a 5,10 or 15 on the bottom.
Give your child a pot of playdough and a spoon.
Set a timer for two minutes and see how many balls your child can make and then flick them into the cup.
At the end of the 2 minutes, count up the points, the person with the most points wins.
10. Write a Message
Help your preschooler with basic reading and spelling and write a fun, visual message for them, to decipher- using words and signs, like; eye (I), heart (love) U (you).
11. Dressing Up
Create a necklace, place playdough balls on a string, the perfect gift! Kids will love playing dress up games with a playdough moustache, ring, bracelet or watch.
12. Animal Magic
Hunt around the kitchen for interesting shapes you can add to create a playdough animal! Pasta is a great addition as it can be easily stuck into the playdough to make arms and leg. Snakes and snails are a great starting point for toddlers.
Sea creatures are also fun to make, stick in some shells from the seaside. You could even create your own beach or aquarium.
13. Can You Guess What I Made?
This is a great game to play with three people.
You will need two lumps of playdough, two children and an adult!
Give player one and player two their playdough and sit them back to back.
Call out a theme like “food,” the kids have one minute to create something food-related. When the time is up, everyone turns around and shows what they have made, can you guess what it is?
14. The "Hot Potato" Playdough Game
One of our favourite party games, this can be played with all the family. The rules are simple- you have a ball of "hot" playdough and pass it around in a circle with music. When the music stops you don't want to be holding the "hot potato" so quickly pass it to the person next to you, to avoid being out. The last person remaining wins!
15. Mould Your Favourite Book Character
A great activity for little ones, after you have read a book, ask your toddler to create one of the characters from the book, like the caterpillar in “The Very Hungry Caterpillar“. You could even create additional activities, such as making his food from playdough!
16. Playdough Treasure Hunt
Hide some safe and small objects in the play dough, bury them so they can't be seen and ask your child to find the "buried treasure." They can use a spoon or a knife to dig for the goodies.
17. Build A Spaghetti Tower
This is a great game to play with your toddler and can be easily achieved with playdough and spaghetti.
Attach each long piece of spaghetti to a blob of playdough, using it as a glue. See how high you can make your tower before it topples over,
18. Seasonal Play Dough
How about making playdough items to celebrate events? Here are some great yet simple ideas:
Easter: Eggs, chicks and rabbits.
Birthdays: You can make a Birthday cake and stick in a real candle.
Valentine’s Day: Hearts and roses.
Christmas: Snowmen, Father Christmas and robins.
Halloween: You can buy glow in the dark playdough, so perfect for ghosts and ghouls.
19. Make A Meal Of It
First of all, talk to your toddler and explain that playdough is not food and shouldn’t be put in their mouth or eaten, but, you can make pretend food for fun.
Ask your little one to "prepare" a play dough meal as if you were in a restaurant and maybe even make a menu.
Starter: Tomato salad
Main: Noodles or spaghetti or a pizza
Pudding: Ice cream
You can then pay with playdough money!
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things, that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it's important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.
Kidadl provides inspiration for everything from family days out to online classes, arts, crafts and science experiments. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.
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