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Incorporating play in the classroom and at home is so important to strengthen kids’ imaginations, fine motor skills, and more! One of my favorite ways to encourage play is with play dough activities. This Back to School Play Dough Kit and Sensory Activity is perfect for getting students excited for the Back to School season while encouraging some sensory and imaginative play!
*Pair this with our Back to School Centers and Activities for Pre-K & Kindergarten!
Back to School Play Dough Kit and Sensory Activity
We really love having large, accessible play dough kits for open-ended play in my Preschool program, and they are also perfect for Kindergarten classrooms or homeschool families.
My key things with these independent sensory play kits is that they:
- are diverse
- are easy to clean up
- have clearly (visually) indicated storage systems for children to understand and keep the order of
- are engaging
- incorporate different learning objectives
- are open-ended
How to Make a Back to School Play Dough Kit
First, gather your materials:
- school bus toy
- number cookie cutters
- peg people (two teachers and several students – big and little)
- apple confetti
- chocolate play dough
- pink bubblegum play dough
- yellow (vanilla) play dough
You can substitute and use whatever different materials you may have in your home or classroom. These were mostly materials that I already had, making this an affordable and still exciting sensory play kit.
While all of the play dough colors relate to different school objects in my mind, there really is no wrong way to play with these play dough kits – I love watching the kids come up with different concepts than I had intended when I put the kit together.
I do try to connect each item back to the main concept, but the items are not so fixed that they cannot be used in a different manner.
For example, I expected the pencils that I included to maybe be used in some structural building, or just as a cheap and fun indicator of the subject of school, but they were used in so many unexpected ways.
First, for poking holes – a favorite in play dough experimenting!
RELATED RESOURCE: Back to School Clothespin Clip Cards for Kindergarten
Then, they were used as mini-rolling pins to roll out flat roads for the school bus to drive on.
Plus, building the roads involved fluid thinking, coming up with creative solutions like rolling small snakes of play dough to imitate the yellow lines on the road – a clever observation from the child’s own life.
And then finally, play dough pencils were made, using the real pencils as models. This is a great art activity and one that explores so many concepts – shape recognition, dimension, visual discrimination, etc.
Just that one material alone provided so many opportunities for play. Then, of course, there were the cookie cutters – always a favorite! My daughter made giraffe-printed numbers by speckling the play dough colors to make a fun pattern.
Using cookie cutters is a great way to build and engage fine motor muscles, and of course, when you use cookie cutters that signify objects or concepts that a child is familiar with, it’s a great way to review concepts in a fun and play-based manner.
Children can then use the play dough numbers to make math questions – using the pencils or other objects from the box – or practice patterning. My daughter decided to practice counting by twos!
Children can also:
- play out scenarios with the peg dolls
- make erasers or snacks with the play dough
- practice writing with the pencils in play dough
- attempt to recreate the apple shape with the play dough
- dress the peg dolls with play dough
What types of activities will your crew likely engage in with this kit? What items would you substitute?
We had so much fun with this Back to School Play Dough Kit and Sensory Activity – it’s a great way to welcome children back to the classroom and an easy way to provide a calming, sensory activity that is accessible and open-ended!
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