28 Ways to Celebrate National Play-Doh Day

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28 Ways to Celebrate National Play-Doh Day

Did you know that September 16th is National Play-Doh Day?! I was shocked to learn that one of my childhood favorites had its own day! The mere mention of the name brings me back to rolling up dough roses or making fake pizzas as a little girl. Such simple, satisfying entertainment. So often toys are over-complicated, cheaply made, and loud. Many toys do all the “work” of playing for the child and leave little to the imagination.

Fred Rogers famously said, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”

The benefits of play in learning cannot be overstated. Play-Doh’s simplicity yet multi-faceted nature makes it the perfect addition to any classroom, homeschool, or playroom. It inspires the imaginative child. It comforts the agitated child. It aides the visual child. Play-Doh is a valuable learning resource in many ways.

Benefits of playing with Play-Doh

  • It promotes learning through play
  • It relieves feelings of stress and anxiety in children
  • It helps children develop and improve fine motor skills
  • It enhances hand-eye coordination
  • It encourages creativity and improves social skills
  • It provides a great medium for children struggling with sensory processing disorders


Playdough ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup salt

4 teaspoons cream of tartar

2 cups lukewarm water

2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil (coconut oil works too)

Food coloring, optional

Quart sized bags

Stir together the flour, salt and cream of tartar in a large pot. Next add the water and oil. If you’re only making one color, add in the the color now as well. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Continue stirring until the dough has thickened and begins to form into a ball. Remove from heat and then place inside a gallon sized bag or onto wax paper. Allow to cool slightly and then knead until smooth. If you’re adding colors after, divide the dough into balls (for how many colors you want) and then add the dough into the quart sized bags. Start with about 5 drops of color and add more to brighten it. Knead the dough, while inside the bag so it doesn’t stain your hands. Once it’s all mixed together you’re ready to PLAY.

Store the play dough inside the bags once done to keep soft. Keeps for up to 3 months.

Recipe courtesy of I Heart Naptime. Full recipe here.

For Preschoolers

According to NAEYC, “Playdough play at home or school supports development and learning in many areas. When children use playdough, they explore ideas and try different approaches until they find one that works. They compare and contrast objects (“Mine’s a fat pancake and yours is skinny”), actions (“No, don’t cut it! Scrape it, like this”), and experiences (“We’re not making a snake—we’re making a road”). In their experimenting, children come up with their own ideas, satisfy their curiosity, and analyze and solve problems. These are all skills that help children learn and succeed in school.”

Practice shaping letters and numbers

Does your preschool-aged child resist handwriting practice? Try having them shape their letters and numbers using Play-Doh instead! This fun alternative to printing practice allows them to build the strength necessary to develop more hand control for writing.

Teach your child to recognize and spell their name.

Learn to write and copy letters and words.

Help your child discover common sight words using these playdough mats.

Learn math concepts through hands-on activities

Play-Doh is an excellent resource to help preschoolers visualize mathematical concepts. Whether they are learning basic addition and subtraction or comparing sizes of objects, Play-doh can help a frustrated young child see the math, not just the numbers on a paper.

Enjoy this free, fall Montessori-inspired playdough math pack.

Short on time? Here are 6 no-fuss playdough math activities for preschoolers.

Use these ADORABLE playdough math mats to help your little one learn to count!

Engage in creative science-based learning

Inspire your mini-mad scientist with one part dramatic play and one part science with this fun activity!

Learn if items will sink or float with this water science experiment.

Practice health and hygiene techniques

Download this food playdough mat and have you child add their own fruits and veggies to their plate.

Teach your little ones about the importance of good dental hygiene with this creative pretend play.

For Elementary-Aged Students

Play-Doh is not just for little kids! The benefit to the versality of Play-Doh is that is can be used to help illustrate more complex concepts to older children in a fun and engaging way.

Tackle fractions and other elementary math concepts

Compare fractions using Play-Doh with these exercises.

Teach shapes and geometry using these printable cards and dough.

Learn to tell time with clock playdough mats.

Help students visualize multiplication arrays by seeing the pieces using dough.

Inspire creativity in your young artist

Have your child create a self portrait in playdough.

Create a scene using dough, cookie cutters, and other elements.

Learn the color wheel with playdough.

Paint with Play-Doh.

Engage your budding scientist with science-based play

Create and label a cell with some chemistry playdough activities.

Build some awesome electrical circuits.

Learn about the phases of the moon with this simple activity.

Take a deeper look inside the layers of the Earth with STEM playdough creations.

For Middle to High School Students

Is there really an age limit on Play-Doh? I still find myself playing with it when my children pull out their bin of dough. It’s therapeutic! All of us have a little kid inside, after all, so why not indulge them once in a while?!

Have students create a stop-motion movie using playdough.

Students can reconstruct a location or event from a certain time period.

Create a strand of DNA or other molecules.

Construct a human heart or other parts of the anatomy by performing playdough surgery.

What are some of your favorite ways to use Play-Doh?


PLAY-DOH activity books

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