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Playdough play!

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Do your kids love playdough? Playdough is hands down my kids favorite art material. There are so many different ways you can use it, read on to explore the various ways!

You don't have to buy playdough, you can make a batch of various colors from ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen cabinet. Store them in airtight containers or ziplock baggies and they will last a long time. Check out this great playdough recipe from If your child has a gluten allergy there are gluten free recipes as well!

Playdough Basics

Playdough is great because it doesn't require much explaining or help from parents. You can usually just set it out and your kids will do all the work. It's the perfect process based art material!

There are some basic things you should explain to your child about playdough though. If they are very young you will need to remind them not to eat it (although it is nontoxic). Also it is a choking hazard to babies and is not recommended for children under two, so keep your eyes on your little ones.

Beyond that you can show your children how to mash a pancake and show them how to roll a ball. Don't try to stop them from mixing all the colors together, because they won't listen to you anyway and you will just end up frustrated (this still drives my husband crazy). Playdough is an excellent process based art material. They are going to have fun feeling it, mushing it and molding it, it doesn't matter what it looks like in the end. By the time it has turned into a big ball of brown their little brains have learned so much, embrace that!

Restaurant Survival Bag

Playdough is the key ingredient in our restaurant survival bag. We never go to dinner without it. Here is everything in the bag: homemade playdough in a ziplock baggie, dump truck (for my son), little figurines (for my daughter), and some crayons. My son will make "rocks" to put into his dump truck, and my daughter often makes clothes for her figurines. Sometimes playdough turns into a sticky road with tracks that run through it. They can stick the crayons into it to make popsicles. If we are at sushi they stick their chopsticks into it, really anything goes.

I place all these small objects into a small clear bag and keep it in my car at all times. Whenever we go to a restaurant I grab it. If you don't already have playdough in your restaurant survival bag, or if you don't have a restaurant survival bag, go out and get yourself one right now!

Popsicle Stick Building

If your kids love to build things, let them try building with playdough and popsicle sticks. They can use colored popsicle sticks, or plain popsicle sticks. Anything goes here.

Nature Building

Similar to the popsicle sticks, you can find some sticks in your backyard to stick into the playdough. Go for a walk with your child and collect sticks and leaves, then break out the playdough and let them come up with creative new ways to put these supplies together.

Kitchen drawer supplies

For the longest time my kids had no playdough tools. Any time they wanted to play with playdough they went to our kitchen drawer and got out 3 things. The garlic press, the egg slicer and the meat pounder. If you have a rolling pin or some butter knives you can throw those in too. I bet your kitchen drawer is filled with all sorts of gadgets that could be used with playdough!

Cookie cutters

If you are like me you have a collection of cookie cutters that come out on average once a year. Get those cookie cutters out and a rolling pin and let your kids practice rolling and cutting playdough! Give them a few pieces of parchment or wax paper to lay all their creations on when they are done.

Tracks and foot prints

Break out the cars, trucks and dinosaurs. Let your kids practice making tracks and foot prints.

Nature prints

Similar to tracks and animal foot prints, you can also make prints of twigs and leaves, basically anything found in nature. Go for a nature walk and fill up a bucket of objects, then roll out some playdough and have your kids lightly press the nature objects into the playdough.

Playdough Art Storage

If the idea of a playdough mess is too daunting for you, consider letting your kids play with it outside. I got tired of stepping on playdough chunks and picking playdough up off of the living room floor, so I bought a plastic multi-drawer container from Target and I moved playdough outside onto our back porch. We have a small picnic table out there as well, so it was the perfect setup. I love keeping everything messy outside.

Playdough is a great experience for kids 2 and up. It is a tactile way for them to experience new ideas in three dimensional space. When you make your own, it is easy and inexpensive to give them a heap to play with inside or out. It is the perfect process based art material and requires very little parent oversight!

How about you, do you have any new ideas for working with playdough? Please feel free to write about it in the comments below!

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