Exploring Playdough| Day 7 – 30 Days TYP

Playdough and Natural Materials - An Everyday Story

30 Days TYP - Day 7 Exploring Playdough {An Everyday Story}

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Here we are. Week 2 of our 30 Days to Transform Your Play series. Starting this week until the end of the month Rachel and I will be exploring different invitations along with posts like last week to really get us seeing play in a deeper way; seeing how we can adapt different play activities to really engage our children and meet their current interests, allowing them to extend their explorations.

We will be looking at drawing, painting, construction, dramatic play and more. Today we are exploring playdough.

I have a few questions for you:

  • How do you usually approach playdough?
  • What are your children’s current experiences with playdough?
  • How do you typically present it?
  • What materials do you typically include with the playdough?
  • How do you usually arrange the materials?

For this exploration I would like you to present the playdough each day for at least three days if you can. I think it is really important for our children to have time to really explore a material and their current thinkings. Watch how they play, take note of what they do, build, and stories they create and use those cues to add materials on the following days.

Playdough and Natural Materials - An Everyday Story Exploring Playdough and Natural Materials from An Everyday Story Exploring Reggio - Playdough faces - An Everyday Story Exploring Reggio - Playdough and loose parts

“Sensory materials keep children reinvesting in the invitation, which allows them to see more possibilities for the objects available to build or design something, create a drama, or make up a game”

~ Curtis & Carter: Learning Together with Young Children

Presenting the Playdough

How many materials you present with the playdough will depend upon your child’s experience with the material. If they have never explored playdough before or have only had a few experiences, simply offer the playdough by itself. Watch how they play and over the next few days encourage them to poke, stretch, push, roll and really get to know the material.

If your child is familiar with playdough, you can use it as a sensory base to further explore their current interests; make deeper connections and represent their ideas.

We spoke last week about your child’s interests. Many of you shared your child’s interests on my Facebook page; rockets, space, trains, volcanoes, dinosaurs, insects, fairies… with a few carefully selected materials beautifully presented alongside some natural playdough, you can create an inviting and engaging activity for your child which meets their unique interests.

Displaying the Materials

  • decide where you are going to present the materials – it doesn’t have to be on a table….
    • why not go big on a plain plastic table cloth on the ground?
    • Or a large piece of perspex? – wouldn’t that be great on the grass if your child is interested in farms or even insects; having the grass as an element of the exploration
  • find a background for your playdough – I often use a white kitchen tile. Choose something with a solid colour, something neutral which won’t draw attention away from the materials. The background defines their personal work space
  • find beautiful neutral (wood, wicker, transparent) containers for materials
  • add materials based on your child’s interests.
    • something to build with: sticks, small wooden cube blocks, small pieces of dowel, wire etc.
    • something to make impressions: shells, bolts, bottle tops, nothing too big though – you don’t want to clutter your work area
    • something to create stories with: figurines and materials related to your child’s interests
  • try to see materials in new ways. When you add them with figurines or other prompts, your child will use them in new and creative ways. Things like:
    • twine
    • beads
    • flowers
    • beach stones
    • marbles
    • materials with interesting textures and beautiful natural colours
  • start with a few materials and add more materials over the following days. Watch your child play, listen to their stories, and add more prompts over the next couple of days


  • create a playdough invitation based on your child’s interests
  • add a few materials at first and add to them over the coming days
  • keep watch for cues on how you could extend the exploration further
  • snap a picture of your set-up and share it on my Facebook page or on Instagram using #30daystyp

Making imprints in playdough using natural materials from An Everyday Story

If you missed a post, here’s the rest of the series. You can also join us on my Facebook page and Instagram using #30daystyp

Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s posts on Racheous – Lovable Learning

30 Days to Transform Your Play Day 7 Exploring Playdough {An Everyday Story}

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14 Replies to “Exploring Playdough| Day 7 – 30 Days TYP”

  1. I love your blog and this post! I usually give my kids only one or two items to incorporate into playdough. How you guys clean it up? Do kids do it?

  2. I too am wondering how you clean it up. My daughter uses lots of things in her play dough, but the fact that she has to clean it up keeps it from getting as involved as I see here (how to pick all the bits out? Do you just throw the playdough away?). Beautiful invitations!

    1. lydia purple says:

      we often use lots of small bits to the play dough. mostly the kids pick those bits out themselves, but if not I’ll do it. anything that can be soaked in water (glass beads, shells, stones…) i just put in a bowl of water to loosen play dough bits and later rinse off. for cleaning up: the kids put the dough back into the sealed container, this means the bits get taken out and i find that if the different materials get presented clearly each with their specific bowl or container, they usually put them back where they belong. I just do a touch up after to make sure the playdough container is closed and i’ll put misplaced bits into the right spot.

  3. We had a ball with our play dough, I have the same tendency to not get play dough out because of the mess. My daughter would stick it all over the house! So now it’s just an outside thing unless I play with her inside so I can keep an eye on where it goes. I make the same play dough as on the cream of tar tar and as soon as it gets gross or eaten by the dog I’ll just make some more for the next week!
    My daughter loved tinkering in the back yard the sarvo, she told me she was cooking with her play dough then presented me with her cake which was round and covered in chalk bits and a toy tractor! She then stuck play dough on my laundry trolley and then started feeding it to the dog at which point it was time to change activities… We have enough vet bills!
    Thanks for your encouragement to change our play time:)

  4. We love play dough here too! I love the different ideas for incorporating other materials in play. We didn’t have a chance to fully explore play dough today so I hope to catch this one up tomorrow! 🙂

  5. Can I tell you how much I am loving this series so far! We love playdough so today’s topic is a great one for our place.

    1. I am glad you are enjoying it Danya.

  6. I am loving this series because it really makes me reflect on my own play with my little girl. You always ask such great thought provoking questions. Keep up the great work girls.

  7. My kids get to play with play dough whenever they want since I leave it on a low shelf. They LOVE sticking sticks and rocks into it as well and will play for hours! I love messy play, so it isn’t a problem for me to clean it all up. Not a big deal 🙂

  8. Hi there,
    Love your posts, what is the recipe for the play-doh though?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Emily, thank you. Are you in Australia? It’s the recipe on the back of the cream of tartar container. I am sorry, but I don’t have a container of it at the moment.

  9. I let the children scrub the objects they love sensory using toothbrushes , dish scourers etc.. they enjoy it and dry them on tea towels and place back into the containers try it its fun even I join in.

  10. Simple quick play dough you will never go to boiling it on a stove ever again.
    (Australia) I make play dough fresh every 3 day-Preschoolers
    I 1/2 cups of Cream of tartar ( found in cooking ,flour isle)
    3 cups of plain flour
    1 1/2 cups of salt
    mix well
    3 Tablespoons of cooking oil(any will do)
    mix well
    Boil 3 cups of water iin the kettle
    Pour boiling hot water into a jug or bowl
    add food colouring just remember the more you put in the darker the colour E.g if you want pink just a little pinch of red food colouring.
    Add water to the top mixture and stir until it turns into dough
    Usually I roll a ball into my hand as it is warm then when cooler I give it to the children to manipulate into a ball.
    Sometime I have to add flour if to doughy
    or place flour sprinkled on table for children to roll in
    So let the fun begin and enjoy

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