27 Christmas Playdough Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

We love using playdough for strengthing fine motor skills! It’s a staple in our toddler and preschool classrooms. Playdough also invites creativity. It’s a fun open-ended activity where there are no specific outcomes. During the Christmas season, we love to add some snowman building, making gingerbread ornaments, and building trees. But wow, there are so many more great ideas out there. And I found them in this collection of 27 Christmas playdough activities for toddlers and preschoolers.

Yep, 27. You are sure to find a few ideas here to try in your classroom, childcare center, homeschool, even during a play date.

Included in this collection you will find playdough recipes, free printables, hands-on activities, and more. Ready for some Christmas playdough fun?

christmas playdough activities

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27 Christmas Playdough Ideas for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Let’s Build a Snowman Activity: Provide white fluffy playdough and accessories to make an indoor snowman!

Gingerbread Dough Ornament: Add gingerbread boy cookie cutters and make ornaments!

Build a Christmas Tree from Playdough: This STEM activity challenges the preschooler to figure out how to build a Christmas tree out of play dough and beads. (Schooling a Monkey)

Christmas Tree Play Dough Activity: Build your own Christmas tree and adorn it with loose parts. (Messy Little Monster)

Vanilla Mint Playdough: Think of candy canes while enjoying this playdough activity! (Mama Papa Bubba)

Quick and Easy Playdough Activity: This recipe is so easy, even toddlers can make the dough! Add accessories and you have a quick and easy activity. (Living Montessori Now)

Christmas Playdough Activities

Christmas Lights Color Sorting: Sort colored Christmas lights and place them on the matching color of playdough. (3 Dinosaurs)

Candy Cane Playdough Soap: Mold the dough into candy canes and use for your bath. Would make nice gifts! (Steam Powered Family)

Snowman Playdough Activity with Free Printable: Make snowmen with sparkly white playdough and adorn them with accessories. (Messy Little Monster)

Christmas Tree Playdough Math Mats: Use these mats to help with counting and number recognition (free printables). (Pre-Kinders)

Christmas Counting Playdough Mats with Free Printable: Add some math to your Christmas playdough activity with these fun counting mats. (Simple Fun for Kids)

Christmas Playdough Activities

Count the Reindeer Noses: Roll the playdough into small balls and work on 1:1 correspondence while counting noses. (The Preschool Toolbox)

Fine Motor Christmas Activity: Use tweezers to remove small items from playdough. (Little Bins for Little Hands)

Reindeer Letter Matching: Match letters while making reindeer out of chocolate playdough. (Fantastic Fun and Learning)

Aliens Love Panta Claus Playdough: Create the characters from this fun book! (Adventures of Adam)

Cookies for Santa Activity:  Kids will be having fun making pretend cookies and writing their own letter to Santa with the provided free printable. (Pre-K Pages)

christmas playdough activities

Salt Dough Recipe: Salt dough is super easy to make (only needs 2 ingredients plus water) and you can make ornaments and other Christmas items with it. (The Natural Homeschool)

Gingerbread Baby Playdough: Retell the story of Gingerbread Baby while molding this sweet smelling gingerbread playdough. (Kitchen Floor Crafts)

Peppermint Salt Dough: This is an easy no-cook recipe to use with Christmas cookie cutters and other pieces. (Little Bins for Little Hands)

No Cook Natural Peppermint Playdough: Your classroom or kitchen will smell wonderful after making a batch of this dough. (Natural Beach Living)

No Cook Cranberry Playdough: Super easy to make and would make a nice quiet indoor activity. (Natural Beach Living)

Gingerbread Playdough: A pinch of ginger, cinnamon and allspice to give it an authentic smell and make the house smell lovely too. (The Gingerbread House)

christmas playdough activities

Candy Cane Playdough: Let the children make this themselves to strengthen fine motor skills. (KC Edventures)

Christmas Playdough Gift: Create cute playdough packages that would make nice Christmas gifts. (Non Toy Gifts)

Christmas Jello Playdough: Using Jello to make playdough creates a nice vibrant color! (Play and Learn Every Day)

Cinnamon Playdough: Explore patterns with this scented Christmas playdough! (Mama Smiles)

Build a Snowman Playdough Kit: Everything needed to build play dough snowmen in small locking lid containers for some holiday fun on the go. (Mama Papa Bubba)

10 Christmas Playdough Mats: These would be fun as an independent activity or with a group of children! (Fantastic Fun and Learning)

Christmas Playdough Activities

You can find so many more ideas on our Christmas pin board!

christmas playdough activities

 

Here are some more favorites for preschoolers:

 


Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds




STEM Playdough Building Challenge

When planning activities, we love to find those that can be adapted depending on the child’s level. If you have a mixed-aged classroom, or if you are a parent with children of different ages, you are probably nodding your head. So, when we came up with our STEM playdough building challenge, we wanted it to work with both our toddlers and our preschoolers.

My co-teacher put together a super simple playdough activity that both age groups enjoyed, but in different ways. The best part is that all we needed were 3 materials that we already had on hand.

 

STEM Playdough Building Challenge for Preschooolers - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

 

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STEM Playdough Building Challenge

 

Before I start this, I just have to get it out there that for quite awhile I was a bit timid about adding STEM to our preschool classroom. And for toddlers? Yep, it sort of intimidated me. And then I discovered that I was not alone.

 

When should we start STEM activities with children?

Students are incredibly active learners at 1, 2 and 3 years old, and we can start building their foundation in STEM as soon as they enter this world. (naturalstart.org)

 

STEM Playdough Building Challenge for Preschooolers - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

What we used with this STEM playdough activity:

  • Playdough
  • Straws
  • Lego Duplo bricks



Setting up this activity:

Our playdough table seats 6, so we set out 6 balls of playdough, along with the straws and Duplos. We teachers wondered out loud how we could construct buildings with these materials.

STEM Playdough Building Challenge for Preschooolers - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

We observed both the toddlers and preschoolers first poking straws into the playdough.

They also pressed the Duplos into the playdough, making prints.

Then, they noticed the straws fit into the holes on the bottoms of the Duplos. This fascinated them!

STEM Playdough Building Challenge for Preschooolers - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

They then stuck them back into the playdough. They continued doing this until they had quite a few of what they called “towers”.

STEM Playdough Building Challenge for Preschooolers - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Our older preschoolers figured out to make balls out of the playdough and use these to connect the straws. Sometimes it worked, sometimes they needed more support.

 

STEM Playdough Building Challenge for Preschooolers - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

We successfully found a STEM activity that could be adapted depending on the child’s level. It worked in our mixed-age setting.

AND it only required 3 items.

Let us know if you try this, and how it worked with the different ages!

STEM Playdough Building Challenge for Preschooolers - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Make sure to check out these ideas, too!

Little Blue and Little Yellow Toddler Art Activity - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds      Preschool Math Activities      Learning the Alphabet - Activities for Preschoolers - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

 

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

 

 




10+ Music and Movement Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

In our toddler and preschool classrooms we make sure to balance quiet and active times. Young children’s attention spans are shorter and their bodies just want to move. In addition to recess, we make sure to provide music and movement activities for our preschoolers. As I’ve shared in my preschool schedule post, our designated music and movement time is after snack. However, we’ve also used instruments in the gym during indoor recess and at other times in the day when we could see that the children just wanted to move.

The good thing about music and movement activities? You don’t need to be able to play an instrument or have a stunning voice. It can be as easy as popping in a CD and dancing! But there are some other fun and easy ideas, too, and that is what I am sharing today.

 

Music and Movement Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

 

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Music and Movement Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Here are 10+ ideas that can work well during circle time or any time there is that extra level of energy that needs to be burned.

 

Play movement games using a parachute. We love our parachute to practice different movement activities while also learning new songs.

Dance with ribbon rings. Buggy and Buddy have a simple tutorial on how to make your own with ribbon and rings.

Play a harmonica. Your preschoolers can make their own! Housing a Forest created easy harmonicas using craft sticks and rubber bands.

Move egg shakers. This DIY version from Mama Smiles uses clear plastic eggs and colored sand for visual fun.

Wear bells while you dance. Play Learn Love found a fun way to tie bells on your choice of body part to stimulate the sense of sound.

Strengthen speech and language development. In the Playroom gives a variety of ways to make music shakers along with activities that build verbal skills.

Work on jumping skills. The Inspired Treehouse has created a movement game for kids called Jumping Animals.

Get up and move! Growing a Jeweled rose shares a fun homemade action game that works on action and direction.

Move like ocean animals. Toddler Approved created printables for you to download and use in this fun movement game.

Have fun doing the plate dance. Childhood 101 uses two paper plates as cymbal-like percussion instruments. This dance reinforces fast, slow, softly, loudly, behind our backs, under our legs, above our heads, and you can also rub them together to produce a totally different sound.

Watch your balance doing the tissue dance. True Aim shows how all you need is a piece of tissue to teach posture, body control, balance, and concentration.

Focus on following directions to music. This fun song by Nancy Kopman gets the body walking, bouncing, swaying, turning … to a fun beat!

Slowly move to classical music. Let’s Play Music shares how a different approach is needed when using softer, gentle music. This type of music is perfect for silk scarves, streamers and ribbons.

Have a collection of music on hand. We love action songs for those get up and move moments. Having a collection makes it easy to stop and move any time!

 

If you have younger children, check out our collection of songs for 2 year olds.

More ideas for young children:

preschool color activities    Preschool Name Recognition Ideas   Preschool Math Activities

 

Music and Movement Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds




Playdough Activity for the 4th of July

During our Red, White, and Blue Camp we put together a fun playdough activity for the 4th of July. This is one of our favorite annual camps, so we have been able to add to our stars and stripes collection each year. My daughter, Rachel, is one of the camp teachers and she came up with this festive sparkly red and blue play dough that the preschoolers loved.

Play Dough Activity for the 4th of July

 

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Playdough Activity for the 4th of July

What you will need:

Red food coloring

Blue food coloring

Blue glitter

Star confetti

Star cookie cutters

Small American flags

 

We also had on hand:

Red, white, and blue star pony beads

Red, white, and blue pipe cleaners

Red, white, and blue poker chips

Rolling pins and other playdough tools

 

Play Dough Activity for the 4th of July

Play Dough Activity for the 4th of July

 

 

Making this 4th of July playdough:

Follow the instructions on how we make our playdough in our calming lavender play dough post. We waited to add the color until the playdough was removed from the pan. We separated the dough into 2 balls and added red food coloring to one and blue food coloring to the other. We then sprinkled a bit of glitter on the table surface and rolled the dough into it, just enough to give a little sparkle.

 

Play Dough Activity for the 4th of July

Creating the invitation to play:

Since we have 6 spots at our playdough center, we placed some blue and some red playdough at each spot, along with bowls of flags and other materials.

 

Play Dough Activity for the 4th of July

Naturally, they wanted to mix the 2 colors together. That’s part of the fun!

Play Dough Activity for the 4th of July

Then stars were made with the cookie cutters.

Play Dough Activity for the 4th of July

And flags were placed on the stars.

Play Dough Activity for the 4th of July

The beads and pipe cleaners were poked into the playdough as well. Lots of fun fine motor going on!

It’s no wonder we love playdough so much. No matter what time of year it is, no matter what theme or holiday, playdough can be part of it!

Play Dough Activity for the 4th of July

 

Watch this on You Tube!


 

More ideas for young children:

fun summer activities for toddlers     outdoor games for preschoolers      Outdoor Activities for Preschoolers

 

 

 




Scented Playdough Recipes

We love using scented playdough recipes with our toddlers and preschoolers. Play dough is an every day staple in our classroom, and we place this table near the entrance for those that need some time to warm up before engaging in the day’s activities. Play dough is soothing – even us teachers love to sit down and play with it!

 

 

scented dough recipes

 

 

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

 

Scented play dough for kids:

 

scented dough recipes

You might also like these ideas for kids:

painting challenge logo      water table activities for preschoolers     Fine motor activities for preschoolers

 

Art resources:

            

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Easy Halloween Playdough

Looking for an easy Halloween activity for your preschooler? You can whip up a batch of this easy Halloween playdough, add some fun details, and have it ready to go in minutes! Play dough is perfect when you want some calming moments in your home or school. It’s also a wonderful way to strengthen the hands and fingers, getting them ready for holding writing utensils. You can store all the materials in a air-tight container and have it available any time you need it. We never go a day without some play dough!

 

Halloween Play Dough

 This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

 

Easy Halloween Playdough

no cook play dough halloween

 

 

What you will need:

 

 

no cook play dough halloween

 

We always have a play dough table set up during our centers time. It’s a favorite with both our 2 and 3 year olds. We change it out each week, keeping things fresh.

 

no cook play dough halloween

 

Those of you who have followed my blog awhile know that we love to incorporate extra fine motor challenges. My co-teacher, who put this activity together, thought to add pipe cleaners and pony beads for the 3 year olds. (We removed the pony beads for the 2 year olds.)

 

no cook play dough halloween

 

For some, poking the pipe cleaners into the play dough was fun enough.

no cook play dough halloween

 

But for others, adding the pony beads was additional fun.

no cook play dough halloween

It took great concentration to get those small beads on the pipe cleaners.

no cook play dough halloween

no cook play dough halloween

They were very proud of their accomplishments!

 

no cook play dough halloween

 

More fun fall activities:

fall apple sensory bin      kids fall nature activities     Fall Science for Preschool with Squirrels and Acorns

 


Easy no-cook halloween play dough

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds




Scented Play Dough

We love to use scented play dough with our toddlers and preschoolers, but we thought it would be even more fun to let them make it themselves! We put some of the play dough ingredients into a sensory bin and let them mix it all up. They loved using chalk to tint the salt (fine motor development), scooping and pouring over and over again. Then we turned it into lavender scented play dough for even more fine motor fun!

 

 scented play dough

 

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

 

What you will need to put into the sensory bin:

 

 

scented play dough

 

Place all the items in a sensory bin or some sort of container. Since this has salt, supervision is required to make sure children do not ingest it.

 


 scented play dough

 

Invite the children to explore the salt mixture. Give them plenty of time to scoop and pour and drag the purple chalk through the salt, tinting the salt purple.

 

 scented play dough

 

 We kept this in the sensory bin for the entire week so that both our 2s class and our 3s class could enjoy it.

 

scented play dough
 scented play dough

 

 scented play dough

Making the lavender scented play dough:

This is our favorite play dough recipe, but we double this since we have 10-16 children.

2 cups flour
1 cup salt (for this particularly activity, you will use the salt you mixed with the chalk)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 cups cold water
Food coloring

No cook version:

Place the dry ingredients in a bowl. Boil the water and add it to the dry mixture and stir.

Stovetop version:

Place the water in a pot and bring it to a boil and then add the rest of the ingredients. Cook until the dough thickens and separates from the sides of the pot.

For both versions:

Place the dough on a flat surface and knead with a bit more flour until it is no longer sticky. Place in an airtight container.

 

scented play dough

Playing with the scented play dough:

This play dough has the best aroma ever, and it is so calming! Whenever any adult came into our classroom, they were amazed at how wonderful the aroma made them feel. We placed ours on our play dough table with some wooden tools.

 

 scented play dough

 


Wooden hammers were used to pound craft sticks and wooden pegs into the play dough.
 
scented play dough
 scented play dough

 

 

Here are more activities for toddlers and preschoolers:

Fine Motor Activities for Preschoolers   preschool transitions while waiting   Simple and Fun Art Activities for Toddlers

 Favorite resource books:

                                            

 

 




Exploring with Watercolors

Disclosure: This post reviews products provided free of charge from Discount School Supply. We have been purchasing many of our supplies from Discount School Supply since 1999. 

preschool paint
We love painting with watercolors in preschool, so we decided to explore them a bit more by freezing the paint and working with it while thawing…

Awhile back, Discount School Supply gave me a big box of their products to try. I was most intrigued with the confetti paint, which we used for our birthday bulletin board signs.
 
Teacher Susan decided to thin it with water.

 

And place it in the freezer overnight.

 

The following day she placed the frozen paint on the art table.

 

Each color has a different size/shape of confetti, but the blue paint’s confetti looks like glitter. 

 

The children were invited to work with the frozen paint as it was thawing.

 

A science experiment at the art table, working with the slushy paint as it melted.

 

The next day, Teacher Susan used our acrylic page holders as mini-easels.

 

The confetti paint is too thick out of the jar to use with pipettes, but once thinned with water, it works beautifully.

 

You can still see the glitter as the paint is dripped on the paper.

 

Process art. Science. Fine motor. Fun!
 
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Fine Motor Squeezing Activity Using Playdough

We just finished our first week of school, and can I shout hooray for playdough? Seriously, this stuff is like magic for busy toddlers and preschoolers, children who are having separation anxiety, and for those that simply love the feeling of it. So we put together a fine motor squeezing activity using playdough.

It was a hit. Every chair was taken during centers time.

And it’s super, super easy to set up. Who doesn’t like that? Especially the first week of school?

fine motor strengthening with play dough

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Fine Motor Squeezing Activity Using Playdough

What you will need:

fine motor strengthening with play dough

We placed balls of playdough at each spot along with the citrus squeezers and a garlic press.

fine motor strengthening with play dough

After playing with the playdough for awhile, the children were curious what would happen if they placed some of the dough inside.

fine motor strengthening with play dough

We modeled how to place some of the dough inside the squeezer and then use our hands to squeeze the handles together.

fine motor strengthening with play dough

When the dough pressed through the small holes, there were big smiles.

fine motor strengthening with play dough

Then, of course, they wanted to do it over and over again.

We love these types of activities because the children are figuring out where to put the dough, how to squeeze the dough, and discovering what happens afterwards.

Toddlers will probably need some help at first, but once they get the hang of it, this becomes an independent activity. In fact, you could store the playdough in an airtight container along with a basket of squeezing tools for those times when they are ready for a quiet activity.

More ways to have fun with playdough:

Playdough Birthday Fun

No-Cook Halloween Playdough

Playdough Snowmen

Playdough Building Challenge

 

fine motor strengthening with play dough

 

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds