Learning with Play Dough

Sharing is caring!

Learning with Play Dough

Play dough is an valuable tool for learning. Not only is it so important for sensory development and motor development but it can also be utilized in so many ways besides imaginative and pretend play which on their own are fabulous for your child’s development.  We are going to be concentrate on Isabella is learning with play dough, concentrating on math and motor skills.

Introducing Play Dough

Now I introduced my daughter at a fairly young age to the world of play dough, I believe she was 10 or 11 months (she was probably slightly older) she only played with the sealed containers of play dough but she played with it! (Haha!) She liked stacking the containers and looking at the colored lids. We used store-bought play dough, only because I was lazy and didn’t feel like purchasing all the ingredients and containers to store it. As my daughter got older we began opening the containers and experimenting. It has been a while since I played with play dough. I remember I used to create meals and menus and play restaurant with all the things I created which are a great imaginative and creative pretend play example. However, I did promise ways to play with play dough to learn Math.

Basic Math Skills

Isabella who is currently two years old loves to create small ball shapes with the play dough, they can vary in size and color. This is great for both sensory and motor skills. Her little fingers are at work with the dough, building muscles that she can later use for writing, cutting, getting dressed and so on. It is also an excellent way to begin teaching sorting and categorizing. We play games in which we have to sort by size, color, or shape (if we make various shapes instead of balls).

Categorizing and Sorting

Categorizing or sorting is a great intellectual exercise for children. It helps develop reasoning skills, such as logical thought processes and the ability to discern multiple types of relationships between concepts (shape, color, size,etc.) Reasoning skills are an important part of organizing thoughts for a report, constructing a story, using reference books, conducting interviews, etc.


Besides sorting or categorizing, we count the created objects, sounds simple right? Well, it is something about counting tangible objects that open doors when it comes to math, it instantly gives young ones the ability to visualize how much a number really is.  It is a tactile way to learn and its best to teach young children (the earlier the better) quantities first and then numerals, by using the objects that you created together to see the quantity of the number is an exceptional way to play and learn at the same time! Young children can actually be able to understand large quantities pretty instantaneously.If you are really interested in teaching Math to your baby, you should go to the Brillkids website. Get the Free E-Book titled Teaching Your Baby Math.


Another fun and educational activity we do is make patterns, as you can see in the photos we use the small balls we created to make a pattern with colors. Isabella loves completing patterns as well as creating her own.






We also love our Melissa and Doug Shape, Model, and Mold set, they have these little molds that we used to create patterns as you see in this photo.








Why are patterns important?

Why are patterns important for an early age? Patterns are the heart and soul of mathematics and we can indeed say that almost all of mathematics is about generalizing patterns (Zazkis & Liljedahl, 2002). Learning patterns have become part of the elementary curriculum in many countries in recent years and the introduction of patterns in the early years show some benefits for the students. Two benefits are mentioned in which “patterns are a powerful vehicle for understanding the dependent relations among quantities that underlie mathematical functions, as well as a concrete and transparent way for young students to begin to grapple with the notions of abstraction and generalizations” (Moss & Beatty, 2006). Patterns are also important since it gives a good transition in introducing algebra and is used in formal introductory algebra experiences. Secondary teachers tend to say that students do not understand algebraic functions because they have a lack of early experience in the elementary school that supports approaches to algebra. Learning patterns such as repeating patterns, growing patterns, linear patterns, pictorial/geometric patterns and so on should be an essential curriculum that schools should focus on. Obviously, these are really easy and FUN ways to start to teach early math, colors, shapes, sizes, opposites (big vs. little) etc.

Addition and Subtraction

Another activity is to use molds or stampers for the dough. We have a set of numerals which we got from some “play-doh” set.  We are now using these numerals to connect the quantities with the numeral as well as learn addition and subtraction. This is a video of my daughter, Isabella 2 years old and I doing some simple addition, we have a lot more fun when I am not recording, it is kind of a low-quality video as I am working with her and recording, you are pretty much looking at the table with the dough most of the time.


Overall these are some really fun and educational ways we play with play dough and I hope you enjoy trying them as much as we do.

Let us Know

Do you play fun educational games with play-doh with your kids? What are your favorites? Did you try any of our tips? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below. If you try any of tips snap a photo and share it with us, we would love to see a photo of you having fun! Tag us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram use the hashtag #bloomingbrilliant

Pin it

Learning Basic Math Skills with Play Dough


Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.