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Play Dough can be a parents worst nightmare… stuck in the carpet, put in mouths, shoved into toys…. you get the picture. However, with some simple structure learning with play dough can actually be quite fun.
teach your child with play dough

 Set Boundaries: 

We have these rules for play dough:

– It is stored in a plastic container in the closet up high.

– We play with it at the dining room table.

– When we are finished, we clean up.

When you introduce play dough to your little ones, teach the rules and then follow through.


How do you use play dough to learn? 

learning with play dough


1) Use play dough cookie cutters.

We have these animal ones that came with a play dough set. It is always fun cutting out the different animals and talking about the animal name and what sound it makes.

learning with play dough ideas


2) Create Letters and Numbers 

Work together to create different letters, practice spelling different words. Roll out little balls of play dough and then count how many you have.  Make numbers with your play dough.

play dough number


3) Use play dough with Mr. Potato Head 

3) Use with Mr. Potato Head. I recently saw this idea at Happy Hooligans and thought it was the cutest idea. My sons love Mr. Potato Head and this is a great way, for toddlers especially, to create different looks using the Potato Head parts.  (See more by clicking on the picture below)




4) Use with play dough mats

There are many options for these all over Pinterest. Some have letters, numbers, shapes, etc. Money Saving Mom offers this set of Free Printables A-Z.

June 2013 202_thumb[1]



5) Animal Prints 

5) Animal Prints. We love taking out our plastic animals (many from the dollar section at Target) and then rolling out a section of play dough. Then we walk our animals across the play dough and talk about their different tracks. The kids love this activity as they can see which animal has big or little tracks.

animal tracks in play dough




6) Make scented play dough

You could make play dough that is scented like pumpkin pie play dough for the fall or even peppermint scented play dough for Christmas.
pumpkin pie play dough



The options really are endless for Play Dough learning. It is a great tool that we often can overlook.

Do you use Play Dough for learning and exploration? If so, what are some activities you and your children have enjoyed?

If you are looking for more great ideas, I suggest these posts:  Activities for Afternoon Quiet Time.  or this one: Ideas to keep your kids busy for an hour or more!



A group of people posing for the camera.Meet Keri:
As a mom of 3 little ones, I have slowly come to realize that everything has 
its season. The endless nights of a crying infant, potty training your toddler, tantrums, hugs and kisses… they are all small moments in time.  Time that moves on ever so fast. As time flies by, we have to take hold of these moments- even the insane screaming ones– and remember it is just for a season.   

Read Keri’s Blog at Living in the Season.

Find her on Facebook here. 



Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. All great ideas. I am printing the alphabet mats right now and this will be perfect for my 2 year old! I am going to try tot school with her this fall.

    1. Thank you both. I am excited for you and hope tot school starts out well. I will be sharing at Living In This Season on Thursdays about Tot School and would love for you to share what you are doing with me!

  2. My daughter has always been one to put play dough in her mouth, whether we were using the store-bought kind, the salty kind, or the edible kind. I did notice last time we played, though, that she didn’t taste test it as much 🙂 Great rules, and I can’t wait to try out all the ways to teach with play dough!

    1. Thanks, I hope it works for her! My son used to put it in his mouth too but has been learning, slowly but surely!