Simple Ways to Easily Change up Your Playdough Time

Simple Ways to Easily Change up Your Playdough Time

I seem to have so many playdough related posts already published on my blog and I hadn’t planned on sharing any more. That said, over the last several years I’ve been snapping photos of some of the things the kids and I have done with our playdough and although they don’t seem to be large enough, on their own, for a post I figured I should still share them here in case you’re interested. I hoped this would be helpful if you were looking for simple ways to change up your own playdough fun. Also I’d love to hear from you, in the comments below, if you have any other ideas on how to change up playdough.

Image for Pinterest showing a collage of eleven images along with the title and URL of my homepage. All images show what you can do with playdough. A few of these images aren't shown below as they were moved to their own post, but these posts are linked below.

Before I begin I wanted to give you an overview of all of my previous playdough related posts, so far, in case you need my playdough recipe or if any of these ideas better fit what you are looking for.

Change up the Toys for Your Playdough Using:

Your Kitchen Tools

One very simple way to change up your playdough play is by changing up the toys that you use to play with it. The kids have gotten into the habit of making the exact same items each time they play with playdough so changing up the tools would force them to come up with a new way to use the playdough. Of course, with their increased independence they end up doing the exact same play when they go get the exact same tools or toys but maybe you can get an extra burst of creativity out of your kids before they think to ask. This change could range from buying new playdough toys to using items you already have on hand that they wouldn’t have otherwise thought to use. I know several times when the girls were younger they wanted to have the flour I used when making the playdough. They were happiest playing with their playdough when I added in my used measuring cups and the excess flour.

Image shows little hands holding a plate and flattening some pink playdough on a white plate coated in flour. There's two other balls of playdough on the plate with the pink playdough along with three different squished balls behind the plate and a wooden spoon and metal measuring cup beside the plate.
The kids loved being able to use the tools they had just seen me use to make the playdough and combine it themselves with their own little bit of flour.
Image shows three white bowls with glittery playdough inside them. Zoey is leaned over the table with one hand in each of the outer two bowls. Under her sits a filled four cup jug with playdough and an empty metal measuring cup.
This time around Zoey ignored the flour but asked for the bowls, measuring jug, and measuring cup to play with.

Play-Doh Kits Geared to Your Kids

Sometime before we last moved we were gifted a Play-Doh dessert set and, that previous Christmas, we had bought Zoey a Play-Doh Barbecue set. The combination of those two food-related sets, our toy kitchen, some playdough, and a set of markers gave us hours and hours of kid-happiness as they made so many food-related things. This was a needed distraction as I packed, cleaned, unpacked, and organized. The kids, even now, prefer to make food-related items out of all of the playdough ideas when they’re creating. What items would get your kids fired up?

Image shows Zoey holding up a cone filled with two scoops of glittery pink and purple 'ice cream'. The table shows lots of toys in a basket and bag, mounds of the playdough, and some pretzels.
Both girls loved making ice cream using the plastic cones that came in a dessert Play-Doh set for, I think, Zoey’s birthday.
Image is taken from above looking down at the table filled with white mottled cookies placed on flatten pink pieces of Easter egg and bunny imprinted playdough. Off to the side are some of the mentioned tools.
At different points I added to the playdough tools with traditional Play-Doh kits, plastic cookie cutters, and a plastic Easter rolling pin (which became the favorite). This resulted in lots of desserts and tons of play.

Non-Playdough Pretend-Play Items

Once at my friend’s house I noticed the use of her plastic kitchen set so the kids could ‘bake’ the playdough treats they were making. Later on, at home, I opened up our kitchen set to the kids’ playdough which resulted in items with incredible long bake times creating lots of hardened and adorable creations. Sometimes I find playdough crumbs in our kitchen set but the times they decided to play with their creations makes them all worthwhile.

Image shows Ada holding up a plastic cake stand with layers and layers of hardened blue hearts forming a playdough cake with a strawberry shape on top. Behind her the living room is slightly blurred.
Ada showing off her baked cake to me and the camera.
Image shows cardboard shelves surrounded by more cardboard in a table. The shelves are all filled with drying out playdough placed in either muffin tins, cake platter, loaf pan, or half a plastic Easter egg.
The cardboard refrigerator in our kitchen set is now constantly filled with baked goods either drying out or just at home waiting to eventually be used in pretend play.


That same friend once pulled out candles so the kids could take turns singing happy birthday to each other and blowing out a real candle. They had an absolute blast but as I use sensory play as a break for me I never pulled out the candles at my home… until Matt’s birthday one time. That night, years ago, we had decided to celebrate by going out to dinner. When we came home, close to the kids bedtime, Ada became distraught once she realized Matt wasn’t planning on blowing out any candles. I, luckily, remembered what my friend did that time, quickly created a cake out of the playdough we had on hand, and grabbed a candle. We all sang Happy Birthday to Matt before removing the candle, cutting the cake, tapping our cake slices together while saying cheers, and then fake ate it down. The kids were happy that Matt had finally been sung to and it turned into an incredible memory.

The image shows most of the cake as it sits on a yellow cake platter on the kitchen table. It's pink, blue, and white with a blue balloon candle lit on top. Behind it you can see Ada and Zoey sitting on Matt's lap.
The quickly assembled birthday cake with the balloon candle burning brightly away that saved our night!
Image shows five hands holding up their somewhat triangular cake pieces. The cake and hands closer to the camera are in focus while the background is blurred.
After cutting the cake into somewhat equal pieces we clunked them together lightly while saying cheers before pretending to eat our cake piece with gusto.

As a quick aside I do need to warn you about birthday candles. Since that time I added an extra pack of candles to the kids’ playdough area thinking they could imagine lighting up candles for each other. The candles ended up being forgotten for awhile but were resurrected when the kids found them and created the most annoying sensory item I’ve had in the house: crushed candles. The crushed wax has been turned into a kitchen set item so they keep crushing and I keep finding pieces even though there was only one pack available to them. I even found a pile of the cleaned wicks although I can’t remember what they were supposed to be. Needless to say we eventually cleaned it all up, after giving them a few more days to play, and haven’t added candles back in yet.

Plastic Animals or Characters

We keep a bin of plastic animals and various other characters in our sensory cupboard. Sometimes the kids grab them, or some other plastic toy from their room, to add to their playdough fun. This could range from something simple to more involved. Once I had them create landscape out of green, blue, and brown playdough so they could add their dinosaurs to create a scene. Another time I had them create dinosaur footprints in their playdough.

Image shows a circle of playdough on the table with a bag full beside it. Zoey is currently placing a dinosaur into the playdough. Three other dinosaurs are already there with tons of footprints around.
I paired a simple container of plastic dinosaurs with our playdough and showed Zoey that they could make footprints in the playdough.

Little Pieces

Back in August I came across the Busy Little Hands: Art Play! Activities for Preschoolers by Meredith Magee Donnelly on NetGalley. I didn’t end up making most of the activities but, while flipping through with Zoey, we came across the playdough friends and Zoey got so excited and wanted to immediately go make them herself. Years ago we had bought create-a-monster slime sets that came with little plastic limbs and eyes so I grabbed the pieces I had saved along with some playdough we had on hand and both girls jumped right in. They had a blast! After I found a similar idea through The Artful Parent’s Playdough Monsters (And Other Fun Ideas with Poke-Ins) post where she uses various easily obtained items like pipe cleaners, dried pasta, googly eyes, and craft feathers for their monsters.

Image shows Zoey holding the hands of a little orange and blue monster with giant looking eyes, pink feet, and yellow hands.
Zoey’s adorable little monster.
Image shows Ada adding eyes to her cowboy hat wearing playdough snowman. A little circled monster sits beside and an assortment of plastic dinosaurs and playdough pieces are scattered behind.
Ada got into the fun too making a variety of monsters to go with our plastic dinosaurs.

A Contained Kit

I found simple repackaging playdough with items the kids may not have naturally used can make playdough seem novel and fun again. Almost a year ago my girls were gifted, by a friend, two sensory kits from PlayAtHomeMomCo on Etsy. The girls absolutely loved their kits and over the past year or so I’ve been ogling all of the other kits she’s since put out on her Instagram page, but, with our full sensory bin area, I never could truly justified buying another. I ended up turning to the kits we already owned and considered emptying them out so I could add some of our stuff to it and make it seem brand new. The kids ended up going through stages of ignoring their kits, while I’d strongly consider repackaging it, but each time, once I was about to empty them, they’d randomly and unprompted play with them again and I’d put off doing it once again. Finally, just last month, I decided to make it happen. I told the girls my plan, had them do a final good-bye play, and then together we took apart the kits so the containers could be empty and the pieces would continue on in a new home in our sensory play cupboard. I took my time repurposing the kits making ones I knew both girls would enjoy but making sure Zoey would especially love them since she’s needed something to do while Ada was in school. I ended up combining freshly made playdough with items we’ve had on hand for years (like plastic bingo discs, foil confetti, sequins, and beads), items I’d bought more recently at Halloween (wooden pumpkin stickers, plastic pumpkins, and butternut squash pumpkin-shaped pasta), and finally items that came in the first two kits (glass sun, wood, jewels, and beads). It was so much fun to make. The first kit was the easiest to come up with. Zoey’s been loving the color orange and pumpkins in general for years now (see the jack-o-lantern and pumpkin Halloween costumes the last two years) so I made her kit using two shades of orange playdough (lemon and orange scented), a bit of each pumpkin-related item I had previously bought her at Halloween, yellow and pink plastic bingo discs (to make orange), some wood pieces to put the pumpkins on, and the orange sun since it’s orange and could help the pumpkins grow. The second idea took a bit longer to come up with but was quicker to throw together once I knew what I was doing. I decided to go for a cupcake dessert themed kit and added popsicles to the theme when I remembered that I had extra sticks of wood and straws from the first two kits. I made two different scented playdoughs and added sequins to them before rolling them up in plastic wrap so they’d be prettier. I added a couple of my silicone baking liners before filling up the remaining spots with jewels, foil confetti, sequins, and beads.

Two divided plastic containers sit out on the black stovetop. On the left sits the orange themed one while the cupcake and popsicle one is on the right.
The finished pumpkin and dessert themed sensory kits.
Image shows Zoey holding a glittery wooden pumpkin with plastic bingo disc 'glued' on with playdough.
Zoey came up with unique ways to create using the pumpkin and orange themed items.
Image shows two playdough filled cupcake liners decorated with beads. To the left sits an purple popsicle on plastic wrap. To the right sits the opened kit.
Both girls absolutely loved making cupcakes and popsicles using the other kit too.

I ended up hopping back onto Etsy and finally purchased two more kits (a Minecraft and a unicorn one) so they ended up with, what felt like, four new kits while also getting to use the old dinosaur and space characters in new scenarios.

Image shows a Minecraft themed sensory kit with lots of greens, reds, and blues.
I knew I had to buy more kits when the I spotted the Minecraft themed one she was selling. The kids have been loving playing Minecraft in creative mode since Christmas.
Image shows a glittery circle of white playdough with pink mardi gras style beads forming a fence around the outside. The rest of the kit sits open in the background.
The unicorn and princess kit was also pretty adorable and I loved all the pieces it came with.

Playdough Mats

Two years ago for Zoey’s birthday party I laminated some LEGO®-themed coloring pages so the girls could use them as targets for their water shooters. Since then I’ve come across the idea of playdough mats so I used the same process to create some vehicle, unicorn, and princess themed playdough mats for the girls. The idea was to leave them plain and the girls could then color them in by laying pieces of playdough over those spaces. The level of difficulty could then be increased with more numerous and smaller spaces. Instead, after I explained the process to the girls, they decided the paper needed to be colored before lamination. I loved the playdough mat idea, but so far the girls haven’t gotten attached themselves. I love how if the playdough mats became a favorite toy I could easily laminate more to create new experiences along with using more educational pages, like many of Plato to Playdough’s ideas, by switching out the mat to letters, numbers, or even a clock.

Four laminated images are spread out on the counter. Two shows a monster truck, one a blue airplane, and the last a school bus.
We colored some of the coloring pages, left others blank, and I added text to a few of them with leading questions. Once ready I laminated all of the pages so they could be used again and again.
Image shows a cut up coloring page showing a recycling truck and LEGO® figure. The wheels are covered with glittery purple playdough while the man's hat and two cones are pink.
The girls chose to cut this paper smaller before we laminated it but I’m sharing as it shows my idea of using the playdough to color the picture. Depending how much you add it may be hard to separate out when done… although I’m now curious to see what it might look like once dried.
Image shows a laminated unicorn coloring page with the text "What can you add to her hair?". The hair is partially filled in with pastel playdough and Zoey leans over the page pushing some more into it.
I used the unicorn page to show the girls how I would do the hair before releasing the pages to them.
Image shows a blue colored airplane with some pink mottled playdough forming part of it's roof.
Ada chose to start with an airplane before changing to something else.

I wanted to share all these random and small playdough ideas with you and hope that this helps you out if you were looking for some way to change up your playdough fun. Feel free to reach out and share any simple or more complicated ways you’ve used to change your playdough in the comments below. I hope your day is going well and something from this post makes your week just a bit better.

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