One of the best ways to help preschoolers develop fine motor skills and learn to identify letters is to use alphabet playdough mats. Print out these playdough mats and add them to your back-to-school activities as a way to gauge what skills your preschoolers have when entering the classroom.
Making letters with playdough is a wonderful tactile way for preschoolers to explore all the smaller components that make up our upper and lowercase letters. As you read on, you will get to discover the best playdough recipe for playdough letters, the many benefits of using playdough letter mats, and more!
Grab your free alphabet playdough mats at the bottom of the post!
Alphabet Fine Motor Mats
When it comes to preschool literacy lesson planning, there are a few key ingredients that are essential for success. One of these is the use of alphabet cards, and why not make them tactile and hands-on by adding playdough alphabet cards to the mix?
These alphabet cards provide a great way for children to develop fine motor skills and letter identification skills. Fine motor skills are more than simply tracing the letters of the alphabet.
It includes hand strength and developing the pincer grasp, so it’s important to incorporate those skills into as many learning activities as possible.
You will most likely be using these cards a lot! So, where are you gonna get all the playdough? I recommend making it, of course! You will save money and nothing beats the texture (and sometimes aromas) of homemade playdough!
I have compiled 45 playdough recipes into one handy book, for your convenience! You may not have even know that there are 45 different playdough recipes! Be sure to grab the book and see if you can make them all!
45 Playdough Recipes$10.00
FAQ about Teaching the Alphabet to Preschoolers
Preschoolers need a lot of exposure to the alphabet. They need explicit instruction as well as plenty of indirect alphabet instruction.
That’s where letter knowledge builds through playful and natural activities in day to day life. To start teaching your preschooler the alphabet, try these things:
~ Read lots and lots of picture books!
~ Point out print around you.
~ Teach your child the letters of his name.
~ Teach each letter explicitly.
~ Do lots of whole alphabet activities, too.
~ Do hands-on alphabet activities.
~ Sing letter songs.
The alphabet should not be taught in alphabetical order. Teaching the alphabet in order puts a big focus on those beginning letters. Those are probably going to be the ones that your child sees and remembers most, since that Alphabet Song is so catchy!
Instead, teach the letters in order of how frequently they appear easily decodable words. Letters like s, t, r, m, n, a, o, and p should be taught first. These are “high-frequency” letters and emphasis on these letters first will allow children to quickly start reading simple words.
Many preschool alphabet activities that are done in the classroom can also be done at home. Beginning sound activities like these Beginning Sound Picture Seek Mats are a good option, as well as these Beginning Sound Fill-in Cards and these Year Long Alphabet Find and Circle Worksheets.
Playdough Letter Mats
Playdough letter mats are a fun, colorful way to invite preschoolers to build and manipulate letters. My playdough mats include all the letters of the alphabet in their uppercase and lowercase forms. They also have pictures that represent the sounds of the letters (and there are even separate long and short vowel cards!).
Playdough activities are a great way to help your child develop fine motor skills as well as bilateral coordination skills! They help develop precision skills, and finger and bilateral coordination.
These are all needed to cut with scissors, put pegs into a pegboard, or thread a needle. Simply put, playdough can help develop real-life motions in the hands, fingers and wrists.
Clearly, it is a priority to set up a strong foundation in these developmental skills for preschoolers.
Making Letters With Playdough
Learning all 26 letters of the alphabet in their lower and uppercase forms is a HUGE task! And, of course, there are a number of things for young children to grasp when it comes to letters. They have to learn to name each one, build/form/write each one, and also eventually learn each letter’s corresponding sound(s).
If preschoolers merely worked with these letters in printed and written forms, it would be very challenging to master this GRAND task!
Children (and most adults) learn best by doing. Kids need to get their hands working while their brains are analyzing and taking in information.
It is so important that preschoolers have the opportunity to build and manipulate letters, as they learn them. This serves to give them a true tactile understanding of letter formation and all that goes along with it.
Young children learn best with lots of hands-on learning experiences, but don’t just take my word for it! Read all about the Importance of Hands-On Learning For Young Children, written by the early childhood experts at the Begin Learning Team.
Best Playdough Recipes For Playdough Letters
As you may very well know, I have SEVERAL playdough recipes, but a few top my “favorites list” when it comes to the perfect combination of ingredients and ease of use!
My FAVORITE EASY Playdough Recipe (Without Cream of Tarter)
This NO COOK playdough recipe without cream of tarter is like divine perfection in the playdough world. Seriously, you will love it! It is so easy to make, and just absolutely dreamy!
It is my favorite and most popular homemade playdough recipe.
Scented Playdough Recipes
Next up, I am featuring my scrumptiously aromatic Scented Playdough Recipes. Using items like essential oils and Kool-Aid, you can personalize the scents to match just about any preschool theme.
Scented playdough takes sensory play to a new SCENTsational level!
Snowy White Playdough Recipe
Ahhhh….a fresh blanket of cool white powder stretches out before you and your preschoolers, just inviting you all to play. But, you don’t need coats, hats, or scarves, as this snow white concoction is simply my COOL (literally, it is cool to the touch) pure white playdough!
This sensational white playdough recipe uses baking soda (and cornstarch) to give it its magical, snowy white color.
Alphabet Playdough Mats
I like to use these alphabet playdough mats the first week of preschool. Not only do they help me gauge what skills my preschoolers have, but they’re also a lot of fun!
The kids love squishing the dough and making the letters, and I love seeing their little faces light up when they realize they’re learning something new.
Plus, it’s a great way to start off the year and get everyone excited about learning!
With the FREE playdough alphabet printable from this post, you get ALL 26 letters of the alphabet! The bubble font used is perfect for building letters with playdough!
Each alphabet card has an upper and lowercase letter and a picture that represents the beginning letter sound. There are even separate cards to account for both short and long vowel sounds! The cards are in full color and are so inviting and fun.
Additional Materials Needed
- playdough in a variety of colors
- cut up straws, beads, playdough rollers, any favorite playdough tools of your choice
How To Use Playdough Alphabet Mats
- Print your playdough mats and laminate them for repeated use, or place them in a dry erase pocket.
- Set out the alphabet mats with some playdough. The children simply form letters out of playdough on the playdough mat.
- Invite your preschoolers to practice tracing letters with their fingers before building with playdough. Writing the letters helps to develop letter formation practice! Discuss upper and lower case letters as you trace.
- Encourage your preschoolers to practice manipulating and building the letters over and over again, which helps their brains solidify the different letters.
- Preschoolers can also cover the beginning sound picture with playdough, continuing to work on hand strength and fine motor skills.
Alphabet Books For Preschool
Practice learning those letter names and sounds with these adorable and well-loved preschool alphabet books! We have selected our favorites for our preschool classrooms and we hope you love them too!
Making Letters With Playdough
Making letters with playdough is so beneficial for your little learners! Remember, young children learn best by doing. The practice of building letters with beloved playdough is one of the best tools for learning letter formation for preschoolers. And, the best part is that they will want to practice this again and again….and again!
Letter A Playdough Mat
When kids first learn letters, it is important for them to break down the letters into all of their individual parts. That is part of the reason that manipulating the letters with playdough is so beneficial! For example, when kids make Letter a, they have to make a curved shape that makes a c, AND a straight line. Rolling the playdough, forming the parts, and piecing these parts together all help to make connections in a child’s brain that says, “this is how I make letter a”.
It’s so beneficial for preschoolers to manipulate and build letters, as seen here with Letter a. Notice how the child made straight lines of various sizes and also made the curved shape of a “c” for lowercase a. These winter playdough mats are loads of fun for letter formation practice!
Playdough Letters Activities
Playdough can be used in a variety of ways to help teach the alphabet, letter formation, and even sight words and learning themes. I wanted to share some more fun hands-on playdough letters activities with you. From playdough name practice, to playdough letters games, with some thematic playdough activities mixed in, these are sure to keep your preschoolers engaged and learning!
- Back to School Name Practice with Playdough
- 30 Free Printables to Make Playdough Even More Fun
- Alphabet Playdough Mats With Tracing (ABC)
- Alphabet Games with Playdough
- Sight Word Playdough Mat with Tracing & Writing
It’s time to play with the alphabet! These super engaging alphabet manipulatives are developmentally appropriate for preschoolers and are hands-on playful fun! Take a look at our favorites below.
Get Your Free Playdough Letter Mats Here
Think you need to add these mats to your playdough activities for preschool? Just fill out the form below to have the alphabet playdough mats pdf sent to your inbox!
You can never have too many playdough recipes! This set of 45 different playdough recipe ideas are full of sensory fun! It’s a great way to keep sensory play alive and well in your preschool classroom!
45 Playdough Recipes$10.00
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m 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 a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of 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.