5 Ways to Use Play Dough in the Classroom

Using play dough in the classroom is so important! Why? because students get to 'create'. From the moment they pick up a ball of dough they are igniting their creativity.

I am so passionate about giving our students as many 'real' opportunities as possible. Away from the screen, away from the 'passive recipient' role, where they can be the designer, the creator and construct their own learning.

Forget the iPad. Forget other fancy equipment. Play dough is where it is at! It is simple and cheap to make, and students respond very well to it! 

I make my own play dough and use a thermomix recipe that makes a nice traditional smooth plump batch. 

How do you incorporate it into your very busy day? Simple. Yes simple. 

Think of it simply as a method or tool for expression in the same way you would think about students writing something down. If we believe there is no room for 'play' and creativity in the curriculum, then we are not thinking deeply enough. 

1. Individual Response

Let the students use play dough to learn the content of your existing curriculum. For example, one of the outcomes I teach in mathematics is "combines two groups to model addition". 

Instead of getting the counters and manipulative out for your addition lesson, use play dough! You are then covering your set curriculum and integrating fine motor. 

Students can learn about nouns by making objects with play dough, create 2D shapes, make a picture to respond to text... the list really is endless. 

2. Link to Visual Arts

Ask students to create with dough to make 3D artworks and learn the beginning of sculpture. This would be the perfect time to teach play dough techniques and how to develop control over it as a medium. 

Taking photographs of the students' work is a great way to record their art-making. 

3. Tell a Story

As part of your regular literacy lessons, have students create a story with play dough before they commence writing. Tell them they have five minutes to create a character and a setting with their play dough. The first time you implement this, you may like to give them more than five minutes. Once made, they must talk to a partner and tell them the story. To complete their lesson, they write their story down in their writing books. If you have the technology, you could even record their verbal story. 

4. Reward

My students love working with play dough - I have even seen sixth grade students get excited about it. Create a play dough area in your classroom and have it as a reward. When students have achieved a particular milestone or accomplishment in the classroom, you could give them fifteen minutes creative time for example, as a reward. 

5. Learning Mats

There are many printable packets available to help target student learning with play dough.  Learning mats will focus student attention on a particular skill or area of learning. 

Here is one I have for teaching numbers and numerals to 20 with a back to school theme. 

There are more in my TpT store and include:

How do you use play dough in the classroom?