playdough cover pbs parentsPlaydough is inherently educational. Not only do children hone their fine motor skills by shaping, kneading, and playing with this fab material, it’s creative too. Let’s not forget the benefit of creativity in education. Sometimes though, especially with children who play with playdough a lot (like my daughter and my students), adding in little bits and pieces makes it more fun!

What You Will Need

  • A fun assortment of colors of playdough.
  • Some of the items listed below.

Please note that children don’t need novelty all the time. While novelty can be a great motivator, too many new things can also be incredibly overwhelming. Add some fun new things in every now and then, making sure to keep some of your child’s old favorites too.

Small Toys, figurines, and models.

pbs parents playdough
You don’t need to have a specific plan. Instead, let your child explore. Ask your child questions about the items they are playing with. You may not always be able to take your child to the natural history museum, aquarium, or petting zoo, but being able to play with toys inspired by those locations and focusing on them gives children a chance to become more interested in them.

    1. Dinosaur Figures
    2. Plastic Bugs
    3. Sea Animal Toys
    4. Plastic Stars
    5. Miniature Farm Animals.
    6. Astronauts and Spaceship Toys.
    7. Vehicle Toys (without working wheels – the playdough gets stuck in those)
    8. Toy soldiers.


Letters, Numbers, and Dice

letters pbs parents
My favorite thing to do with the letters, numbers, and dice is to hide them in the play dough and let the children discover them. If they are learning to identify the names of the letters or numbers you can have them call them out. If they are working on letter sounds, you can have them call those out too. With letter or number stamps you can stamp a big piece of play dough and have your child squish letters as you call them out.

9. Letter and Number Cookie Cutters

10. Scrabble Tiles

11. Letter stamps.

12. Number magnets.

13. Dice

14. Wooden Alphabet Puzzle Pieces

Natural Stuff

nature pbs

Get kids interested in the world outside while playing playdough.

15. Leaves

16. Shells

17. Rocks

18. Twigs


Beads, coins, and Buttons

buttons play dough pbs parents

These items are fantastic for fine tuning those little finger’s fine motor skills. Hide them and let the kids dig them out. Yes it’s that simple!

19. Buttons

20. Googly Eyes

21. Coins

22. Pony Beads

23. Cut Up Drinking Straws

24.  Perler Beads

25. Plastic Gems

More Adventures In Learning

About Allison McDonald

Allison McDonald

Allison McDonald is a former preschool teacher and director who started her popular early education blog No Time For Flash Cards as a way to keep one foot in her professional life while knee deep in motherhood. Learning should be fun and it's Allison's goal to help all parents be able to add a little fun and learning to their child's day. Allison lives in a yellow farmhouse outside of Seattle with her two kids and husband.

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