Playing is a great way to learn, which is one of the best things about kindergarten. Everything is more fun when you feel like you’re “playing” instead of “working,” don’t you think? And since almost everyone, including adults, loves to play with playdough, playdough mats can be a fun way to teach.
Playdough is a great addition to your learning centres because it keeps your students interested, helps them practise making letters, numbers, or even shapes, and strengthens their fine motor muscles. Playdough mats are a win-win in the classroom, as you can see.
Playdough inspires creativity
Students can be very creative when they build with play dough. Did you know that when kids use playdough during centre time, they can use their imaginations and engineering skills to make different things? Even if you can’t see it, their little brains are working, solving problems, and thinking critically when they design.
Playdough helps develop fine motor skills.
Rolling, twisting, patting, and shaping help your little learners work those little muscles they need to develop for good grip strength and coordination. When their small muscle groups get stronger, it’s easier for them to do things like write and colour. Playdough is also very touchable, which helps your students learn how to work with different textures. Now that you know how useful playdough is let’s talk about how to use it in your classroom!
What kind of playdoh should you use?
You can buy playdough if you don’t have time to make your own or if you’d rather not. Each student can have a container with their name on it. This keeps germs from spreading and teaches students to take care of their things.
If you like to create your playdough, the following are my favourite handmade recipes!
- Homemade playdough with 5 ingredients
- Playdough with a scent
- How to make playdough quickly
Playdough Mats and Using Playdough
Playdough mats are a good way to use playdough in your classroom. Also, they are very easy to set up and make. This is great news for any teacher. You need to print, laminate, and cut them. You can also save money on paper and glueing by making the mats narrower and printing two on each page.
You can put the mats, playdough, and a dry-erase marker in a colourful bag or basket. Then you’re all set! Now, the kids need to grab the bag or basket and find a place to work. They can do extra work with the dry-erase marker. Some markers have erasers on the cap, which I love, but if you don’t have those, grab a couple of erasers or tights in the tote, so it’s easy to clean up.
How to Use Playdough Mats Correctly
Playdough mats can be used in whole-class lessons, small-group centres, levelled groups, free time, or morning tubs. Before you give playdough to your students, you should show them how to use it properly. Start by showing them the supply bags and going over the rules.
Next, show them how to roll out the dough like a snake and shape it into letters, numbers, and different shapes. You should also teach them to solve problems if they run out of play dough. Then, show them how to use the dry-erase marker to send the letter, number, phrase, or shape underneath.
Lastly, show them how to clean the mats, put the playdough away, close the lid, so the dough doesn’t dry out, and put the tote back where it belongs. I have one more tip for you as a teacher. Tell them IN DETAIL how important it is to keep their playdough’s colours separate and make sure the lid is on tight. No one wants a mess of colours or play dough that has dried out.
Uppercase and lowercase alphabet mats can help you learn letters and how to write them. I also like to use clipart or pictures of words that start with the letter to help people learn to recognise letters and sounds.
Sight Word Mats
This hands-on reading activity will help kids learn to recognise sight words. They can learn how to write each letter and spell each word. Your students can also write the sight words on their mats and, for an extra challenge, use the word in a sentence.
CVC Word Mats
You can have your students work on one short vowel at a time or mix them up to give them more practice. They can improve their fine motor skills and sense of space by making three letters out of their playdough. They can practise writing the word or sentence on the line, just like they did with the sight word mats.
Use the number mats to practise the numbers 1–20. Using play dough as counters, they can practise writing numbers and showing the number in a ten frame. Also included is the word for the number, so they can practise recognising number words as they learn the numbers.
Your students can make the shapes with playdough, which will also help them learn what each shape looks like. They can use playdough, their fingers, or a dry-erase marker to make the shape word.
Bundle and Save!
My Playdough Mats Bundle has all of these mats for playdough. Students in Pre-K, Kindergarten and Initial Grade can use these in the classroom or at home.