12 Ways to Teach using Play Doh!

Play doh is something every child loves to play with.  Have you ever thought about using that love to excite your students and use it to teach?  There are so many possibilities and all of these ideas really help our kinesthetic learners.  Today I am sharing 12 ways you can use play doh in the classroom during your math and literacy times.

Use play doh in the classroom to teach math and literacy skills


At the beginning of this school year, I gave each of my students 2 of the mini sized containers of play doh (from the Halloween section at Costco). On the first day, it was a great ice breaker, all of the students were eager to transition to their desks to start playing.  On and off over the first few days, we pulled those little containers out and had a great time.  I was tempted to send it home but decided it would just stay in their desk as I thought we could use it again.  I started to think about ways to use it as a teaching tool and quickly came up with the ways that I am sharing with you today.

1.  Represent Numbers

Use play doh in the classroom to teach foundational math skills.

Roll out little balls to show a particular number.  It is good fine motor practice and a tactile way to show what you know.

2.  Use play doh to build a number in a 10 frame

Use play doh in the classroom to teach foundational math skills.

Roll out little balls and fill a ten frame to show a number.

3.  Make your own base 10 blocks

Students can create snakes (as they call them) and break them into rods for 10's and little balls for 1's

4.  Cover up numbers on a 100's chart 

Use play doh in the classroom to teach foundational math skills.

Provide students with number cards and have them find and cover numbers with little balls of play doh.

5.  Show skip counting patterns on a 100's chart 

Use play doh in the classroom to teach foundational math skills.

Cover the number patterns with different colors of play doh. This makes it very easy to see what numbers are used in multiple skip counting patterns.


6.  Use as a manipulative for addition 

Use play doh in the classroom to teach foundational math skills.

Use a different color for each addend to help visualize the addition problem.

7.  Use as a manipulative for subtraction

Use play doh in the classroom to teach foundational math skills.

Use one color to build the first number and then flatten the balls of play doh that are being taken away.  It's a great visual and the kids will love squishing the little balls.

8. Use to create patterns 

Use play doh in the classroom to teach foundational math skills.

Work with a friend and create patterns with 2 or more colours.  Work alone and create shape and size patterns with 1 color.

9.  Make 2D shapes

Roll out a long snake and form it into different 2D shapes.


10. Make 3D shapes

Create solid shapes with your play doh

11.  Make letters out of play doh

Use play doh in the classroom to work on literacy skills.

Roll long snakes and form letters and then words.


12. Stamp in play doh

Use play doh in the classroom to work on literacy skills.

I have lots of letter stamps but don't like ink pads.  The ink always gets all over everything and everyone.  This is a no mess alternative.  Flatten the play doh - I like to use old placemats or laminated sheets for a work surface. Use that flattened piece to stamp words into. It is a great no mess alternative.

All of these ideas build in fine motor practice for your students.  Rolling and manipulating the play doh will help build up hand strength.  Play doh can also be used a fidget for those students that need something to hold on to help with their attention.

Are you ready to start using play doh to teach in your classroom? Download a fun play doh themed freebie 10 frame building mat with numbers.  You can find it {HERE}

What ways do you use play doh in the classroom?  I would love to hear from you.  Share your ideas in the comments below.

Thanks for stopping by.
Until next time,

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