Play Dough is great for developing motor skills and strengthening hand muscles (which lends to the development of writing skills, cutting, the use of a variety of tools etc.)  It can ignite creativity, imaginary play and social skills (when children are working collaboratively on a project or sharing materials.)  Below we suggested a variety of things we have used with playdough at home, in playgroups and in school.  We would love to hear any suggestions you may have!


  • Play dough (you can buy this commercially or make your own- see the Directions section for our favourite recipe)
  • Clay boards or laminated placemats

Ideas for Items to Include in your Play:

Ideas to Add to Playdough 1 from

From Left to Right, Top Row:

  • Seasonal items (such as filler eggs, artificial Fall leaves etc. for different holidays)
  • Vehicles (perfect for making tracks and imaginary play)
  • Craft matchsticks (without the match heads, great for building, making impressions)
  • Plastic jewels, glass rocks (great for digging out “treasures”)
  • Science related items (such as plastic dinosaur bones that they can excavate)

Second Row Down

  • Thematic items (we showed Space for example- with plastic stars, rockets, astronauts etc.)
  • Plastic animals/figurines (you could do different groups- Farm, North American Forest, Rain Forest etc.)
  • Glitter (we added this to our playdough for a space birthday party- simple and fun!)
  • Playdough cutters (Again, you could sort into themes)
  • Building blocks (fun for making impressions)

Third Row Down

  • Dice (for making impressions)
  • Spools and tape rolls (great for making impressions and circle cut-outs)
  • Stamps (Your could use those that are images such as vehicles or letters)
  • Craft eyes
  • Marbles
  • Paper clips

Bottom Row

  • Construction items (washers, nuts etc.)
  • Old keys (for making imprints)
  • Rocks (you could use a variety of nature items such as twigs too)
  • Sequins
  • Craft gems
  • Golf pegs (you might want to include plastic hammers)

Ideas to Add to Playdough 2 from

From Left to Right, Top Row: (* starting with the third item as there was some overlap in the photograph)

  • Clothes pins (just be careful of pinches!)
  • Craft feathers
  • Caps (from beverage jugs and cartons)

Second Row Down

  • Popsicle sticks (great for building)
  • Game (bingo) chips
  • Chenille sticks
  • Toothpicks (great for building, just watch out for pokes)

Third Row Down

  • Craft foam (you could use shapes or cut your own- such as a carrot nose for a snow person)
  • Scoops (great for imaginary play)
  • Straws (good for construction or making 3-D shapes in math)
  • Play coins (dig for “treasure” or create imprints)

Bottom Row

  • Shells 
  • Buttons 
  • Beads
  • Wood pieces
  • Birthday candles (unlit of course!)

Ideas to Add to Playdough 3 from

From left to right:

  • Cooking and baking utensils (measuring spoons, garlic presses, icing tubes are great fun!)
  • Beach toys (molds, shovels etc.)
  • Silicon cupcake liners (you could do mini muffin tins, small pie plates etc.)
  • Clay tools (you can purchase these at educational and art stores)
  • Scissors
  • Rolling pins
  • Primary clay and playdough tools (bigger for easy gripping for smaller children)
  • Candy/chocolate molds


Play Dough Recipe

Playdough Fun from


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 salt
  • 3 tbsp cream of tarter
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Food colouring


  • Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium pan.
  • Add water and oil.
  • Cook on medium heat.
  • Stir continuously.
  • When the dough mix pulls away from the sides and forms into a large ball, the dough is ready to be placed in a small bowl to cool.
  • Store in a plastic container or re-sealable bag.

Source: Japer Place Child and Family Resource Centre

Playdough Fun from

Safety Notes

  • As the included play dough recipe involves a stove, an adult should make it. (An added bonus is that it is an excellent upper arm mini work-out!)
  • Many of the suggested items to include in play can be choking hazards and are therefore not recommended for children 0-3 or those who tend to put things in their mouths.
  • Encourage your children to wash their hands before playing with the play dough and remember to discard it regularly, making new batches.
  • This dough is not designed for consumption.


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