We love to use play dough. We always have a play dough tray on our art shelves but our tray is often cluttered, full of cookie cutters, rolling pins, and other random items. Sometimes my child spends more time looking in the tray than playing with the play dough. So I was considering what a play dough tray looks like in Montessori environments.
I've only seen play dough trays in Montessori toddler classrooms (18months-3yrs). The play dough trays I've seen present the play dough with only one tool, usually some kind of stamper or cutter. Presenting the play dough with only one tool allows the child to focus on one skill at a time, it allows the child to focus on the one action and master it. I decided to give it a go. I put together a few play dough tools and created eight or so play dough trays to rotate. The idea of rotating the trays is to maintain interest, once the child stops using the tray we can bring in a fresh one and I always like to have a few ideas ready to go.
Let's see what our play dough trays look like. Our materials, trays, and play dough are all c/o Modern Teaching Aids.
- Textured Palm Printers - the child can use the little handles on the back of these stampers and press them into the dough. I love the impressions these stampers leave behind.
- Dough Extruders - these are FABULOUS for developing hand strength. If it is too hard for your child to use, try a softer play dough or put away for a few weeks and try again. These are fun to use and really work the muscles in the fingers, hand, arm, and core.
- Make Your Name - I made this by printing out my child's name on paper and laminating it. It can be used repeatedly and easily wipes clean. The idea is the child makes the letters of their name with play dough and becomes familiar with how each letter is formed and how to spell their name. My three-year-old loved this and did it easily, so I think I can definitely move onto different words or even other play dough mats.
- Dough Hammers - these hammers have different shapes and indents on them, the child can hammer the play dough and see the different shapes or patterns they can make. The child also gets a feel for how much pressure they need to apply to make an imprint. These are super fun for children who love to hammer or bang things.
- Rocking Dough Stampers - these stampers are all about wrist rotation, the child can rock them from side to side or forwards and backwards to make lovely impression on the dough.
- Make A Geometric Shape - we love making shapes with clay and play dough so I've included some prompt cards encouraging my child to make different shapes. Here we are making a sphere. I've presented a card picturing the shape and a wooden geometric shape so the child can feel the shape to make. The sphere is easy but we can work up to more complex shapes. If you don't have time to make your own cards these Play Dough Simple Shape Mats (from TPT) look useful.
- Scissors - my three-year-old loves snipping play dough, so this tray was a given. Play dough is also soft and easy to cut, allowing the child to practice using scissors with something that is easy to cut and is completely reusable.
- Textured Rolling Pins - these can be a little tricky, the child needs to apply pressure while rolling the pin. The textured pins allow the child to look at the pin and imagine, or create an image in their mind, as to what the impressions on the dough would be. We've used these since toddlerhood, they much-loved.
Textured Palm Printers - these are easy and fun to use.
My three-year-old uses these a lot and they can also be used on clay, with paint, or a stamp pad.
The impressions are deep and interesting.
Dough Extruders are just so good for developing hand strength!
Because they make lots of different and unusual play dough shapes they are lots of fun to use.
Make your name play dough. if your child has a super long or complex name, you could start with a simpler word. My child mastered this quickly so I'm thinking of alternatives to use.
With a few circles and 't's this is a simple name to make. We could also do pet names, or days of the week, any words that might capture the child's attention.
Dough Hammers allow the child to hit the dough to make impressions. The child will learn just how much pressure they need. Each of the hammers has a different shape at the end.
Rocking Dough Stampers use a little wrist rotation, great for developing coordination and strength in the hand, wrist, and arm.
It's also interesting for the child to compare the different impressions the various stampers leave behind.
Prompts to create geometric shapes. I've printed and laminated my own shape cards and I've included a wooden geometric shape to help the child feel and know the shape.
We started with a sphere, which is super simple, but we can move onto other shapes quickly. I've also made prompts for a cone and cube.
Scissors with play dough. This is an easy but popular option. Play dough is easy to cut which allows the child to practice using scissors over and over.
Textured Rolling Pins are also fantastic for developing coordination and strength in the hands and arms.
Related articles include:
- Playdough - Four Ways (including our Galaxy Dough!)
- Our Favourite and Most Used Play Dough Tools and Materials for the Under Twos!!
This post includes affiliate links. Thank you for your support!