20 Genius Ways to Use Play-Doh in the Classroom

Play-Doh isn’t just for preschool!

20 Genius Play-Doh Learning Activities

Play-Doh is a staple in most elementary classrooms these days. Everyone loves to play with it, and it’s easy to incorporate into meaningful and fun hands-on activities. We’ve rounded up some of the best Play-Doh learning activities we could find to give you plenty of fresh new ideas. Need to stock up before you start? Teachers love this 24-pack of Play-Doh in a rainbow of colors.

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1. Set up seasonal Play-Doh learning trays.

Play-doh Learning Early Learning Ideas

This is such a cool way to get kids to be more creative with their Play-Doh learning. Early Learning Ideas has a whole year’s worth of engaging Play-Doh tray concepts. We love this one, which encourages kids to make a self-portrait in dough.

2. Show the layers of Earth.

Teach about Earth’s core, mantle, and crust by making your own Play-Doh planet. This is an easy hands-on way for kids to understand the different layers and what they do. Since this is a project where color matters, prep for it by buying larger cans of the right shades in bulk.

3. Get basic number practice. 

There are tons of terrific printable Play-Doh learning mats available online, many for free. This one from Life Over C’s gives kids practice forming numbers and also introduces 10 frames.

4. Make shapes with Play-Doh. 

This simple activity from Royal, Baloo gives little ones practice making basic shapes and can be expanded to include more complicated examples (like rhombus or scalene triangle) for older kids.

5. Diagram a cell. 

Inspired Class shares this Play-Doh learning project that shows the different parts of a cell. How cool is that?

6. Learn to spell your name.

Play-doh Learning 123Homeschool4Me

Practice spelling names and other simple words by pressing letter blocks into Play-Doh, like this example from 123Homeschool4Me. Need a set of letters to use? Try the Play-Doh Numbers, Letters, ‘n Fun Kit.

7. Make Play-Doh fossils.

This Play-Doh fossils idea from Plain Vanilla Mom is a surefire way to help kids understand how fossils were formed. Wild Republic’s Insect Nature Tube is perfect for this project, or try using dinosaur models, shells, or other objects you already have on hand.

8. Learn about color mixing.

Learn to mix primary colors to make other hues with this idea fromTeach Beside Me. Her recipe creates playdough that’s easy to mix and blend.

9. Practice patterns with Play-Doh.

Play-doh Learning Preschool Play and Learn

Pattern matching is a simple but important concept for kids to master. Get free printable ice cream pattern mats from PreSchool Play & Learn for this Play-Doh learning activity, which would be especially fun with confetti Play-Doh .

10. Teach a lesson about plants. 

Build miniature cacti and learn how they conserve water with this lesson from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls

11. Engineer a Play-Doh masterpiece.

Play-Doh Learning Fireflies and Mudpies

Grab a selection of twigs or use wood craft sticks and challenge your students to engineer a building, bridge, or other structure. This fantastic STEM idea comes from Fireflies and Mud Pies.

12. Discover circuits. 

You’ll blow kids’ minds when you show them how to build a circuit using the conductive playdough recipe from Teach Beside Me. No time to make your own dough? Buy the Squishy Circuits kit, which comes with everything you need for this project.

13. Color by number with Play-Doh.

Roll a die to see which color Play-Doh to use next with this free printable color-by-number butterfly mat by Teach Me Mommy. (Here are some more fun dice games to try in your classroom.)

14. Use Play-Doh learning for sight words.

Play-Doh Learning The Designer Teacher IG

Use a set of alphabet stamps with Play-Doh to practice spelling sight words. This activity from The Designer Teacher on Instagram is fun for all sorts of spelling practice.

15. Learn the phases of the moon.

Play-Doh Learning KC Edventures

Have kids make the shape of the moon each night throughout the month to learn about the different phases. This would be the perfect excuse to buy some ultracool glow-in-the-dark Play-Doh.  Such a great idea from Edventures With Kids !

16. Build bugs and spiders.

Do you know the differences between a spider and a bug? Or how many eyes a spider has? These free printable mats from Wise Owl Factory use Play-Doh and other items to build models that answer these questions and more.

17. Compare fractions with Play-Doh.

FlapJack Educational Resources shows you how to use Play-Doh to compare fractions. Such a neat hands-on way to tackle a subject that can be confusing for some.

18. Develop fine motor skills.

Get a set of free Play-Doh learning task cards from My Happy Place. Kids are challenged to make a series of increasingly challenging items, building their fine motor skills.

19. Plan a balanced meal.

Play Doh Learning Pickle Bums

Use the free printable What’s For Dinner? mat from Picklebums to teach kids about healthy eating. They can create their own shapes or use the tools in the Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Grocery Goodies set to make the food. (Find more ways to teach about healthy eating here.)

20. Use Play-Doh learning for dental hygiene practice.

Play-Doh Learning Fantastic Fun and Learning

Use this idea from Fantastic Fun and Learning to teach kids how to care for their teeth. Want to take things to the next level? Get the classic Play-Doh Doctor Drill ‘n Fill set!

Love using Play-Doh in your classroom? Join the WeAreTeachers Deals group on Facebook, where we share the best deals on stuff teachers love, including Play-Doh!

Did you know you can use Play-Doh to get glitter out of carpet? It really works! Get more tried-and-tested teacher cleaning hacks here.

20 Genius Ways to Use Play-Doh in the Classroom

Posted by Stacy Tornio

Stacy Tornio is a senior editor with WeAreTeachers. Nearly everyone in her family is a teacher. So she decided to be rebellious and write about teachers instead.

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