Playing with playdough is a fun way for preschoolers to learn counting and fine motor skills. These six no prep playdough activities for preschoolers are easy and educational.
Easy Educational Playdough Activities for Preschoolers
Young children are naturally curious, and research shows that the best time to introduce mathematics to young children is at this time while their brain is rapidly developing during the first five year of life.
As a mother and a seasoned teacher, this makes complete sense to me.
Children in the early childhood years naturally enjoy math activities.
As parents and educators, we enjoy teaching math to preschoolers.
Think about it this way. Have you ever counted the number of treats you hand to your little one? And have they ever asked for more? Have you ever named colors of objects? And have they ever requested a specific color? Have you ever given your child a small piece of something? And have they ever whined for the larger piece?
This is math, my friends!
Mathematics in early childhood helps children develop critical thinking and reasoning skills early on and it’s the key to the foundation for success in their formal schooling years.
And it comes to naturally to all of us!
Yet the thought of teaching math can be intimidating. It’s so systematic and progressively builds upon skills. It can be easy to teach when the learning involves toys, games, songs, and books that are already a part of the child’s everyday learning experience.
But I think it is easiest when using playdough.
What is the Best Playdough to Use for Learning Activities?
Admittedly, I’m a little biased because I have a killer playdough recipe that doesn’t even call from cream or tartar! It turns out perfectly every single time.
This playdough will last in an airtight container for at least three months. If you are using it in the classroom, add a few drops of essential oils to keep the germs at bay.
6 Quick Playdough Activities for Preschoolers that Teach Math Skills
Playdough is a fantastic tool for teaching math to preschoolers because it is a play item most children are already familiar with and love. Not only can you manipulate it fit into just about any lesson plan, it also adds a beneficial sensory piece to learning math in preschool.
You can find all my sensory activities HERE.
Lego Counting Playdough Activity
Playing with LEGO bricks and playdough is a fun way for kids to work on hand strengthening fine motor skills, counting and number recognition.
- LEGO bricks
- wooden numbers
To set up this activity gather your materials and sit at a table with your child.
Then have your child flatten out a ball of playdough. They can use their hands or a rolling pin. This is a great way for kids to strengthen their fine motor muscles.
Next have your child select a number. This can be done a number of ways. Your child can roll a die and then identify the wooden numeral, they could draw a card from a regular deck of playing cards or pick a number from hat or bowl.
After your child chooses a number, have them count out that number of LEGO bricks and press them into the playdough.
Continue playing with this activity until your child is ready to stop.
Fruit Pies Playdough Activity
Making fruit pies with playdough is a creative way for kids to practice number recognition and counting. It is also a great hand strengthening activity.
This is also makes a fun addition to your Food & Nutrition preschool theme.
- 2 colors of playdough
- mini pie tin
- wooden numbers
Gather the materials and invite your child to make some fruit pies with you at the table!
First your child will need to roll out two balls of yellow playdough for the pie dough and place it in your mini pie tin. Have them pinch the dough around the edge of the pie tin to form the pie crust. Then use a cutting tool to cut strips of playdough for the top of the pie and set them aside.
Next have your child break up the red playdough into smaller pieces and roll the it into small, round balls for the fruit filling. Then have your child select a number and count out that number of fruit as they place them into the pie.
Finally, carefully add the strips of yellow playdough to the top to complete the fruit pie. This adds another counting element and also a fine motor piece!
45 Playdough Recipes$10.00
Building Trees Playdough Activity
Building trees with playdough is another great activity for preschoolers to practice hand strengthening fine motor skills and counting.
- brown playdough
- silk leaves
- wooden numbers
Collect the materials and sit down at a table with your child to build some trees and count some leaves!
First encourage your child to roll out a few balls of brown playdough into snakes for branches. Then use the long coils to build a tree with many branches.
Next, it’s time to add the leaves. Have your child roll a die or select a number and count out that many leaves to stick to the tree branches. Continue playing in this way until all your leaves are on the tree.
Watermelon Counting Playdough Activity
This watermelon playdough activity is a delicious way for preschoolers to practice fine motor skills, counting and number recognition.
- pink playdough
- green playdough
- small black pompoms
- wooden numbers
Gather up your materials and sit down with your child to make some watermelons with playdough!
First encourage you child to flatten out some pink playdough into a half circle shape for the watermelon. Then they can roll out some green playdough into a coil and add it to the pink as the watermelon rind.
Next have your child roll a die and select the wooden number. Then they can count out that number of black pompoms and add it to the watermelon as the seeds. Continue playing in this way until all your pompoms are in the watermelon.
Add this activities to your summer themed preschool activities. You can find all my summer activities HERE.
Rainbow Color Matching Playdough Activity
This rainbow color matching playdough activity is a colorful way for preschoolers to practice color recognition, fine motor skills, counting and number recognition.
- playdough (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet)
- buttons (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet)
- numeral die
- color die
Gather up all your materials and invite your child to make a rainbow with you!
First your child will need to roll out all the colors of playdough into long coils and form it into the shape of a rainbow. Then have your child roll the numeral die and the color die. Have your child count out the number of colored buttons and press them into the correct playdough color on the rainbow.
Continue counting and matching colors until each color of the rainbow is decorated with buttons.
Nature Impressions Playdough Activity
Making nature impressions in playdough is a great way for kids to explore the different textures found in nature while working on hand strengthening fine motor skills.
- leaves in various shapes, sizes and texture
Gather up all the materials and invite your child to make nature impressions in playdough with you!
First your child will need to flatten out the playdough into a pancake. They can do this by pressing the playdough with their hands and fingers or using a roller.
Next have your child select a leaf or another bit of nature and press it into the playdough. They can do this with their fingers or by using a roller. This is especially fun with real nature items, but you can use artificial items from the craft store.
Continue to explore the different textures nature impressions can make in playdough until your child is finished.
How are nature prints a math activity for preschoolers, you ask?
Math has a lot to do with observation and finding patterns. When your preschoolers roll over the leaves to make an impression, they will see the patterns in the veins and the leaves themselves. They can even count the leaves and compare them. Which is bigger? Which has more?
Looking for More Playdough Activities for Preschoolers?
Grab my Playdough Recipes E-book!
Playdough activities for preschoolers can be even more fun if you use a variety of playdough! Try any of my 45 playdough recipes in my latest ebook!
Just download and start making playdough today!
45 Playdough Recipes$10.00
Even More Playdough Activities for Preschoolers
Have a preschooler in your life?
I am Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home mama of five! I am the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught range of levels, including preschool and college, and a little bit of just about everything in between. Right now, my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction