Playdough can be one of the most useful tools in the classroom, but it is often overlooked. Playdough is cheap to buy and easy to make, and brings out creativity and learning Here are 20 different ways to use playdough in the classroom:
1.) Letter imprints – Know those letter magnets? Press them into a ball of clay and you get amazing letter imprints which can be used for a letter recognition center.
2.) Counting balls – How many small balls can you make? Can you count them? Can you put them into groups of 10 so we can count by tens?
3.) Letter formation- Roll the playdough into the shape of alphabet letters, or numbers. Or give students a coloring sheet in a page protector and see if they can fill in the letter. Students can also practice writing words or their name.
4.) Shadow sculptures – Create a sculpture. Place it on a sheet of white paper. Shine a flashlight onto the sculpture. Use a pencil to draw around the outside of the shadow.
5.) Create collaborative sculptures – Working together can be one of the most important skills we teach. Give students a topic or a shape and ask them to create that together.
7.) Have playdough olympics – Perfect for indoor recess. Have students try to roll playdough balls into small containers or having stacking contests with small balls of playdough. Have a committee create medals out of playdough.
8.) Measuring snakes – Have students create snakes of different lengths and practice using a ruler to measure how long each snake is.
9.) Work on forces – There’s nothing easier to push and pull than playdough. Work on pushing and pulling with your hands and other items, blocks, marbles, strings, etc.
10.) Create maps – Work on landforms by creating mountains, rivers, lakes and plateaus onto a real or fake country.
11.) Create a scene from a book – After reading a story, have kids sculpt out what they have seen. This helps them work on setting, as well as visualizing the plot.
12.) Three dimensional shapes – Get a real feel for the faces of three dimensional shapes by creating the faces with playdough. This kinesthetic strategy will cement in the minds of students the properties of 3-d shapes.
13.) Imaginary play – Playdough can be turned into any variety of prop or costumes for imaginary play, from a superhero watch to a magic wand to the pizza we are going to eat for dinner. The only limits are your students’ imaginations.
14.) Snakes & Donuts – This economics game allows students to explore trading, price, and supply and demand while creating snakes and donuts out of playdough. Find the specifics of this game in this old blog post.
15.)Imprint fossils – Pressing leaves or bones into a piece of playdough is a great way to create a mock up of an imprint fossil.
16.) Create number sentences – Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division can all be practiced simply by making balls of playdough and labeling them correctly.
17.) Add fractions & mixed numbers – Work on fractions by having students practice creating “wholes” that are the same size and using plastic butter knives to cut the wholes into fractions. This provides a clear visualization of what is going on when we add fractions.
18.) Visualizing fractions – Take those counting balls and create a fraction of a set or a fraction of a number easily. Use different colors to make it pop out for students.
19.) Create an animated video – Use an app like Stop Motion Studio, which allows students to use single frame pictures to create an animated videos. They can use playdough to set the scene and take a picture every time something changes. At the end, they put their pictures into the app and get a video of the movie.
20.) Create a sculpture of the main character before you begin to write your story. - While creating the character, students should think about their character and what will happen to it in the story they write.
How do you use playdough in your classroom?