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Our Favorite Playdough Play Ideas for Kids’ Everyday Creativity


Here are some of our favorite playdough play ideas to get your kids’ creativity going. From pretend play to practicing letters, these activities are perfect for everyday creative play.

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Updated July 2021

We’re always trying out new playdough play ideas. In fact, playdough is one of our go-to materials and activities for everyday creative play. We keep a kitchen drawer stocked with playdough, playdough tools, and playdough “decorations” (toothpicks, beads, googly eyes, feathers). It’s easily accessible and frequently brought out, either by the kids when they want to make playdough cakes to sell in their living room store or by me when I see that they might need a diversion or easy activity.

In fact, I’d say playdough play is one of the top three regular creative outlets in our home (the other two being our big chalkboard and simple paper and markers/crayons/scissors). Sure, we paint quite a bit and we’re always trying some new art or craft idea. But for everyday, endlessly enjoyable and changeable creative fun, playdough is hard to beat.

Here’s a video showing some of my favorite Playdough Play Ideas in action! And keep scrolling for some of our favorite playdough play ideas.

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Homemade playdough is super simple and fun to make. We love our cooked recipe for making big batches that last a long time. And we love our no-cook recipe because you can involve your kids in the process of making it! And if you’re not up for making your own, we really like the Colorations brand.

Once you have your playdough ready, here are some of the things our kids love to do over and over again with it!

playdough play for kids creativity pinterest

Playdough Play Ideas for Kids

cupcakes with beads poked in

Pretend Food

Cupcakes, spaghetti, even apple pies! Kids love to use playdough to make food! They can play kitchen or restaurant and whip up lots of yummy creations to serve to friends, family, or stuffed animals.

pressing letters into clay
Photo by Rachel Withers

Create letters and words

Playdough is perfect for practicing early reading and writing skills. Children can roll out snakes to turn into letters (also great for developing fine motor skills!) or use letter stamps to press into the dough.

play dough monster

Sculpt People, Animals, and Things

Playdough is a great consistency for sculpting, especially for little hands. Kids can create tiny worlds with mountains, volcanoes, and trees for their little toy animals. Or they can sculpt the animals (or maybe even monsters!) that live in the tiny worlds!

purple play dough with poke ins
Photo by Rachel Withers

Poke Things Into It

There’s nothing more satisfying for kids to poke anything and everything into a blob of playdough! We love different shaped pasta, cut up straws, buttons, nuts and bolts, toothpicks, and even googly eyes!

panda toys in purple playdough_Rachel Withers
Photo by Rachel Withers

How about you? What are your kids favorite playdough play ideas?

More Playdough Play Ideas and Recipes

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Our Favorite Playdough Play Ideas for Kids\' Everyday Creativity


  • Reply
    Sarah M
    July 6, 2012 at 8:16 am

    My kids LOVE playdoh, and we have a really neat playdoh tool set from Melissa & Doug (their older version) that they play with, at least every other day, when playdoh is accessible. (We trade off our art supplies to keep it fresh and tidy!)
    I try to control the colors but then I think, oh well! they don’t care, so I just let it go. My big stink is more with picking up all the pieces that land on the floor and inevitably are taken around the house on little feet :)
    I love the idea of noodles, etc. in playdoh. I’ve never thought of that before and my kids would definitely love that new idea! Good thing we’re going to the grocery store today!
    Sarah M

  • Reply
    July 6, 2012 at 9:21 am

    When you decide to retire a batch of playdough and do you have any last special activity or experiment that you do with the dough before disposing of it?
    Also, do you try to remove the pasta before storing the dough? I’ve intermixed pasta before and had some toruble extracting it… but maybe it doesn’t matter if you won’t be keeping the dough for long.

  • Reply
    July 6, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Hi Jean,
    I used to try to not mix the colors but I now try to be more relaxed in general about the art we do (like the fact that she still mixes paint all together!)
    I really liked the pasta you used for coloring, going to try that. Also, where did you get your molds.
    Naomi’s favorite thing to do inside is draw with her markers and build with her blocks along with any craft I come up with.

  • Reply
    July 6, 2012 at 8:08 am

    We love play dough around here too — My kids like to mix it. I try to give them colors that mix nicely since they don’t like it when it is all brown and mucky, but I figure it is better to let them explore and see what happens than to try to micromanage their play to save the colors :) I have some chocolate candy molds that are the best for molding it. Other than that, we love paper and markers/crayons, dot markers, and, right now, pipe cleaners. I have pipe cleaner people, rockets, puppies, and all sorts of “sculptures” wandering around my house.

  • Reply
    July 6, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    We usually do a couple of colors but I don’t try to keep it separate — losing battle at our house! We need to make some play dough, we haven’t had any on hand lately but it used to be may daily saving grace.

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    July 6, 2012 at 11:57 am

    That’s a good idea! Offering color options but limiting them to those that mix well. You’ve mentioned that about the chocolate candy molds before — I’m going to have to give it a try. My kids use little baking dishes and silicone muffin liners as molds, but the candy molds sound extra fun.

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    July 6, 2012 at 11:58 am

    We might have the same Melissa & Doug playdough tool set. Ours is a few years old and we love it.
    Try spaghetti noodles in the playdough — so fun!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    July 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    When do we retire a batch of playdough? Oh, when it has been forgotten/left out one too many times. Or when it has too many mix ins that we don’t want to pick out. Or it’s been turned into too many gifts and cakes and such that couldn’t possibly be mixed back in with the main batch…
    and yes, remove the pasta before storing the dough! It’s not fun picking it out later if you forget (i know from experience…)

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    July 6, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Block building is a big favorite here, too, right now. They go through phases with it — they’ll build a lot for a week or two then ignore the blocks for a month or two.
    The molds? Hmmm. I think I picked up some at goodwill and maybe some at the kitchen supply store. Sorry I can’t be more specific!

  • Reply
    July 6, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Playdough is great. I love that I can make it at home, which reminds me that we are due for some more playdough. The last batch is a lovely shade of gray and all dried out.

  • Reply
    July 6, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Hi Jean!
    When I made playdoh for a bunch of JK/SK school age children, I added a few tablespoons of cinnamon to the batch. Everyone (teachers and children alike) approved of the choice. When my cinnamon batch ran out, I added some tablespoons of cocoa powder to the mix. It didn’t work out quite as nicely.
    I don’t have children of my own, but I’m a registered early childhood educator. Before school went out, the school age kids always requested the following things:
    1. Wal Mart’s fancier glass/plastic beads and stretchy string. No pony beads around here. They were a little more than the normal plastic beads, but not by much. They can make jewellery their moms might actually wear. This was always a favourite of my older girls. Pony beads were always requested for beady animals. There are patterns here:
    2. Melting beads (aka Melty Beads, Perler Beads) are wonderful for ages 6-12. Any younger, and they complain that it’s too hard to fill in all the spaces.
    3. Goop — HUGE hit with boys, especially. I got requested to make this one daily.
    4. Big rolls of poster paper and paint.

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    July 6, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Ooh! Cinnamon playdough! We’ll have to make that this fall. We love beads, here, too.

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    July 6, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    No sense in fighting a losing battle! :)

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    July 6, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Yep, sounds like it’s time to make another batch! :)

  • Reply
    December 30, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Hi there,
    It’s many years now since I last used Playdoh with my own children, but have just bought some to try with my father. He’s 91 and has vascular dementia and I thought it might be fun for both of us. When the days are nice I take him out a couple of times each week from the care home where he lives near my sister, but when the days are wet and gloomy it’s difficult to find activities that will stimulate and hold his interest. Not sure how it will go, but at least I shall have fun trying! :)

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