Just Add Playdough - My Nearest And Dearest

Just Add Playdough

A friend recently asked me what we do with play dough. What don’t we do with play dough?! If you’re a regular reader here you know that play dough makes its way into many of my posts, such as the ones about the small worlds I create for the kids. Most of the time though, I set out some play dough along with one or two other items and let the little ones have at it. The great thing about play dough is that you can pair it with just about any old object(s) from around the house and the kids can entertain themselves.

I’ve put together a list of twenty toys and everyday household items that most people already have that can be combined with play dough. The idea is that in literally one minute you can set up a simple invitation to play for your little ones. I hope you’ll find some ideas here that you can use!


How to play with play dough


Here we go, folks!

Beads. This was a really engaging activity for Peanut when he was just under two years old. Great for developing fine motor skills. Remember of course to supervise little ones who tend to put everything in their mouths.

invitation to play with beads and play dough


Clothes Pins (good for developing hand strength).

Play Dough and Clothes Pin


Mr. Potato Head. I recently saw a post from Happy Hooligans where they did this same thing. Lots of fun!

Mr potato head and play dough


Pinecones and other treasures from nature (this photo is from my Nature Table post).

pinecones shells playdough


Bare toes! Not exactly a toy or everyday household item but most people have ’em! 😉

barefoot in play dough


Buttons. Depending on your child’s age he/she can make patterns and designs with them or simply enjoy pressing them into the play dough.

Playdough and buttons


Kitchen tools can produce some interesting prints.

Play Dough and Kitchen Tools


Blocks (as seen in our construction site small world below), or Mega Blocks, or Lego.

Blocks in construction site small world

Bottle caps.

Play Dough and Bottle Caps


Toy animals or dinosaurs for endless imaginative play.

Animals in playdough


My son and his friend love driving toy cars in play dough. They especially enjoy pretending the cars are stuck in the mud and making hills for them to drive over.

cars and play dough


Dry pasta makes really interesting impressions in the dough. Kids can also have a blast making faces or designs with the pasta.

Play Dough and Dry Noodles


Tools (as seen in my post Tools and Play Dough Fine Motor Fun). This is a favorite combination in our house.

kids tools and play dough fine motor


Craft Sticks (you can get these at the dollar store or Walmart).

Play Dough and Craft Sticks


A muffin tin. Your kids could make play dough cupcakes in one or they could do this…

play dough and muffin tin


A popsicle mold. My son loved making “popsicles” and giving them to me.

Play Dough Pretend Popsicles


The final few I don’t have pictures of but they’ve been kid tested and approved by Peanut and the little ones I’ve looked after during the two years I’ve been running a home daycare.

Toddler knives and/or play kitchen pizza cutter. This one never gets old. I think it’s because knives are usually forbidden or maybe it’s the satisfaction of cutting through the dough.

Straws are always fun to poke into play dough.

An ice cube tray. I currently look after a little guy who loves to pinch and rip apart play dough. An ice cube tray is the perfect spot for him to put all the little bits of dough. It’s also fun for toddlers to stuff the dough into the tray.

Cookie Cutters. Lots of wonderful pretend play can be had with these. Add a rolling pin if you have one.


What simple things do you pair with play dough?


The Homemade Play Dough Recipe Book

We love playdough. In fact, we have a batch or two out on our kitchen table most days of the week. As a mom and a former home daycare operator, I have counted on it time and again as an open-ended play material that never fails to engage a child’s imagination as well as her hands.

Whether you use playdough regularly or you’ve never made a batch in your life, The Homemade Play Dough Recipe Book is for you.  In the book you’ll find endless inspiration in the form of recipes and ideas for a whole year of play.

The book includes:

  • Such recipes as non-cook and cooked play dough, gluten-free dough, salt dough, modelling dough, and real bread.
  • ideas for 52 weeks of loose parts play, in a great printable poster format
  • a whole year of play dough activities, arranged seasonally. There’s an idea for every week of the year, from storytelling and role play activities, sensory play, and small worlds, to creative art prompts and math-based play.

The Homemade Play Dough Recipe Book by Cathy James

Thanks for reading!


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