5 fun Play-Doh activities to keep little hands busy

Plus 8 benefits of playing with playdough for little ones!

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Engaging young children with sensory, open-ended play activities can help them prepare for the big, elaborate world. These activities not only encourage development of fine motor skills, but can also provide ideal ways to practice and nurture their critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration and creativity skills.

Check out these fun creations you can make with Play-Doh!

If you don’t have Play-Doh at home, make your own using this easy recipe.

Tip for parents: Guide your child to explore different shapes, forms and colours. Allowing them the flexibility to experiment and develop their own stories leads to innovative thinking and increased confidence down the line.

Ladybird

  • Shape a lump of red playdough into a ball and cut ball in half to form a dome shape – use a toothpick to draw a line down the middle of the dome.
  • Roll out a ball of black playdough for the head and attach to the dome ‘body’.
  • Roll out several small black playdough balls and affix to the body.
  • Roll out white eyes and finish off by rolling out small worm shaped playdough for the legs and feelers.
  • Curl the ends of the feelers for added effect.

Play-Doh ladybird

Lion

  • Roll out two thick tubes of yellow Play-Doh and fold each tube to form an arch shape. Place the two tubes back to back.
  • Roll out a big ball of yellow Play-Doh for the head and set it aside.
  • Roll out a second large Play-Doh ball (in another colour) and use a roller to flatten this out.
  • Use the Play-Doh tub lid to cut out the middle of your circle leaving you with a hollowed-out circle forming the lion’s mane. Use a toothpick to create marking in your ‘mane’.
  • Place Play-Doh ‘head’ inside hollow of mane and roll out two small Play-Doh balls, flattening the middle to create ears and affix to the head.
  • Roll out another two small Play-Doh balls and using a toothpick create tiny holes for the cheeks.
  • Use a toothpick to make eyes and a small black Play-Doh ball for the nose.
  • Complete the lion’s face by using another small Play-Doh ball flattened in the middle for the tongue.
  • Use a toothpick to affix the head to the lion’s body.
  • Create a tail by rolling out a longer worm shaped piece of Play-Doh and affix a cone shaped piece of Play-Doh to the end.
  • To create paws – roll out four more small Play-Doh balls flatten slightly and use a toothpick for toe markings.

Play-Doh lion

Elephant

  • Roll out a big ball of Play-Doh into an oblong shape for the elephant’s body
  • Roll put four stumps for its legs and attach to the body
  • Roll out a worm shaped piece of Play-Doh for the tail and a thicker ‘worm’ for the elephant’s trunk
  • Now its time for the ears roll out two circles and using a roller flatten these for the ears. Using a different colour roll out and flatten smaller circles for the inner ear.
  • Don’t forget to rollout eyes and finish off with tusks.

Play-Doh elephant

Colour matching caterpillar (especially for toddlers)

  • Roll a few Play-Doh balls in different sizes and colours.
  • Contrast colours can be chosen to make the caterpillar more attractive.
  • Join the balls together by alternating between the colours.
  • Roll very small balls for the eyes.
  • A long mouth can be rolled into a worm shape to complete the face.
  • Toddlers will love placing coloured objects on the caterpillar in this colour matching and sorting activity. Any small coloured objects can be used, such as large buttons or dot stickers.

Play-Doh colour matching caterpillar (especially for toddlers)

Fire truck

  • Roll out a thick rectangle as well as a slightly higher thick square of Play-Doh and join them together. You can use a toothpick to secure the two parts if needed.
  • Use a roller and cutting tool to cut and flatten two white strips. Cut one in half to make the windows, while rolling out 6 yellow ‘worms’.
  • Roll four black Play-Doh balls and flatten each for wheel.
  • Roll out 6 small white Play-Doh balls.
  • Wind a long string of white Play-Doh around a ‘tube’ of red Play-Doh to make the water hose.
  • Put it all together as per the diagram.

Play-Doh fire truck

Benefits of playing with playdough

  • Enhanced fine motor skills. Squishing, rolling, flattening or shaping Play-Doh develops and strengthens hand muscles, which encourages pre-writing and other motor skills such as cutting with scissors, using tweezers, and holding a pencil.
  • Improves pre-writing skills. Actively engaging with Play-Doh develops your child’s pincer grip (the squeezing together of their pointer finger and thumb to grasp an object), which improves pre-writing skills.
  • Creativity and imagination. Play-Doh provides your child with unlimited moulding possibilities – from creating food replicas, animals, decorations, flowers and more, the possibilities are endless. This encourages the development and use of imagination, which inspires creativity.
  • Calming effect. Sitting and squishing Play-Doh is a very calming and soothing activity. It eases tension, releases extra energy and improves focus and concentration.
  • Develops hand-eye coordination. By using a variety of shapes and rolling pins while playing with Play-Doh, your child can improve their hand-eye-coordination.
  • Social skills. Playing with Play-Doh in a small group and/or with adults presents opportunities for children to develop social skills such as collaborative problem solving, planning and playing. As well as improving social skills, children can also learn to effectively engage in individual play sharpening their focus, patience and concentration skills.
  • Increases curiosity and knowledge. Creating different shapes or mixing different Play-Doh colours together to uncover a new colour can assist children in growing their curiosity, develop cognitive exploration and enhance their mathematical thinking.
  • Literacy and numeracy development. Activities that encourage children to physically create letters can help promote reading and writing skills. In addition, conversations between children and their parents during shared activities can lead to vocabulary growth. With Play-Doh, children can practise their ABC’s with a more freeform, hands-on approach.
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