Learning Activities · Sensory Play · Small Manipulatives

Play dough mats – 5 ways to play

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Guys play dough mats are the bomb! There are so many ways to use them, and so many things for littles to learn from playing with the mats. If you follow me on pinterest I have a whole board devoted to play dough mats.

I found these wonderful shape play dough mats HERE at prekinder! This set is free, cute, simple and perfect for young learners.


You do have to do a bit of work with your mats to make them usable. You can laminate them, which is what I always do. The other option is to slip them into something like these.


Items we use most often with our mats:

 WikiStix, check them out HERE.

  • These are a great stocking stuffer. My 2 year old loves them and they are constantly requested with my preschoolers.71QFbaoX1WL._SL1000_.jpg

Counting Bears, check them out HERE.

  • These are so fun. My children use them for counting, patterns, sorting and even in imaginative play.

Washable Markers

  •  Any washable kids marker will work perfect.  Just have a wet paper towel to wipe clean.

Pipe Cleaners

  •  You can get these at any craft store and even some grocery stores.

Play Dough

  • Obviously!  Store bought our homemade, doesn’t matter.


How we use our mats:

I did ask if these activities with my barely 2 year old daughter but my almost 5 year old would have happily done all of them.  I just wanted to make this post for those with young ones at home. ..sometime 2 year olds are hard to tweak activities for, so I just planned for them.

Play Dough

  • My daughter and I rolled out the play dough together. Next we placed the ‘snakes’ on the lines.  Then my daughter filled in the shape with more dough.
  • We talked about where to put out dough, the toppings we were putting on our pizza, and named the shape over and over.


 Pipe Cleaners

  • For the younger age I made a shape with the pipe cleaners and then I put 2 mats in front of my 2 year old and asked her which shape was the diamond. Then she would place it on the right mat and we would say the name again…as soon as I pried the paci from her little mouth (we have a new baby in the house and letting the 2 year old have the paci has made our house much more peaceful, so I say let the girl have her soother).  For an older age they could make the shape themselves.


Wiki Stix

  • We LOVE LOVE LOVE our wiki stix. Today I helped my daughter by working together to make the shape. I would hold the stick in place and she would smoosh it down. Then she would decorate it, we made windows, sunshine, pepperoni pizza and a kite. These stix are so fun. They can stick to things, to each other, to the window, plus they are so bendable. You can make 2 dimensional or 3D shapes. Really the possibilities are endless.

Counting Bears

  • For this activity you simple line up your counters on the line the shape makes. This is easily transferred to letters or numbers. The physical act of placing something on the shape, letter, number helps turn on different parts of your childs brain and helps facilitate the learning process, even though it feels like play. An older child could do a pattern while making the shape.

Washable Marker Trace/Color

  • This is probably the easiest. Simply give your child a washable marker, NOT DRY ERASE, and let them trace, or for a younger age color in. While my little one colored, and attempted tracing we continually talked about the name of the shape and what items were that shape. Then I handed her a damp paper towel and she would wipe clean her mat. TIP: Make sure you get your mats wiped clean at the end, because they are harder to clean the next day….or week.


So there they are! Our favorite ways to use our play dough mats. Mats come in all different ways. Some are made for counting bears, others are made for you to decorate a fireman clothing. Pinterest is a treasure-trove of play dough mats so just do a quick search to find what you and your little one are looking for. Just remember you are not limited to play dough when you play with them.

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