Playdough is one of the hallmarks of a happy childhood. At just the mention of it I can instantly smell the salty, floury scent that was so familiar.
The wonderful thing about playdough is that it is so versatile. With just a few extra bits and bobs, and a little bit of preparation, you can turn a ball of the soft squishy stuff into the most wonderful game. We’ve gathered together a whole heap of awesome ideas, perfect for rainy days or heatwaves. And here’s our playdough recipe to get you started…
Loose parts play
1. Sea shell play
We love this easy idea to make sand-coloured play dough and then use seashells collected on the beach to make beautiful creations.
Photo: Mama Papa Bubba
2. Seed patterns
Just gather a range of grains, legumes and seeds, like poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, popcorn, star anise, chickpeas, lentils or pine nuts and arrange in separate bowls or containers. Your child can press them into the flattened dough and make patterns.
3. Night sky play
Ooooh, how pretty is this sparkly playdough with a night sky theme? All you need is some dark coloured playdough, lots of glitter and sparkles, and some coloured rocks and stars. You could even add a toy rocket ship!
Photo: Two Daloo
4. Nature stamps and patterns
Nuts and seed pods found in nature can make the most wonderful nature stamps. Using a light coloured, neutral playdough colour will accentuate the patterns.
Photo: Danya Banya
5. Let’s play dentists
This clever little use of pink playdough and some white beads is the perfect way to explain oral hygiene and get your little ones fascinated with brushing and flossing their teeth. So it’s a win-win!
Photo: Fantastic fun and learning
6. Practice using our knife and fork
Use different coloured playdough to make a plate of yummy ‘food’ and let your child practice their table etiquette.
Photo: Here come the girls
7. Ice cream shop menu
Use a fun, free printable, like this one from Learn Create Love to give your little ones inspiration to become ice cream chefs! You could design your own cafe or dinner menu too.
Photo: Learn Create Love
8. Plant some flowers
Using an egg carton, some playdough and either real or handmade flowers (paper daisies on straws) show your little one how to ‘plant a garden.’
Photo: Learning 4 Kids
Playdough printable mats
9. Alphabet mats
There are lots of free alphabet mats you can print off and laminate, so your preschooler can start learning her letters in a tactile way using playdough.
Photo: Primary Possibilities
10. Number mats
Help your child learn their numbers by using laminated number mats to guide them.
Photo: Life over Cs
11. Number of petals on a flower
Use this hand drawn printable to create flowers of all shapes and colours.
Photo: Learn with play at home
12. Playdough people mats
Print out these people templates, and let your kids get creative with facial features, clothing and accessories.
Photo: Pickle Bums
Connecting and making
13. Playdough bugs
These cheeky little playdough bugs are hard to resist, and are the perfect way to get your bug-enthused kid involved in playdough creating.
Photo: Fun 4 frugal boys
14. Fruit Loop towers
This is a great fine motor skill activity, that teaches your child to thread objects with small holes onto skewers stuck into playdough. You could use it to practice counting and simple addition and subtraction.
Photo: Mess for less
15. Building with straws
Using straws and playdough to connect the joints, you can make towers, buildings, bridges and all kinds of creative structures.
Photo: Artful Parent
16. Lego letters
Lego blocks double up as fantastic stamps that can be pressed into flattened playdough. You could make patterns, numbers or letters like this.
Photo: One Perfect Day
So what are you waiting for? Get that batch of play dough on the stove, and start creating!
What are your favourite play dough games? We’d love you to share with us on Facebook.