playdough mats
Arts & Crafts,  Creative Play,  Imaginative Play

77 Creative Playdough Ideas to Spark the Imagination

Are you struggling to come up with new activities to do with playdough?

Do you want to know how to introduce playdough to your toddler?

Do you want to help your child to enjoy the benefits of playing with playdough loose parts

Playdough activities have lots of benefits for toddlers:

  • Encouraging imagination and creativity
  • Developing fine motor skills
  • Introducing loose parts play for toddlers
  • Quiet play times
  • Encouraging learning through play

With lots of playdough loose parts play ideas, printable playdough mat suggestions, and playdough cutters & accessories, there are so many activities for you to do with your toddler!


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What Are Loose Parts For Playdough?

You’d be amazed at how much stuff you have in your home that you never considered a playdough essential!

Loose parts play (that’s it’s technical name) is a great way for your child to experiment with everyday objects rather than toys specifically. Anything that sparks curiosity in a child is considered a loose part, encouraging creativity in children as they play

Loose parts and play dough are a match made in heaven!

Using Playdough with an assortment of objects opens up a world of possibilities to children, and is a great way to give them freedom in their play with loose parts play at home

So here are a list of playdough loose parts play ideas for toddlers that you can either find in your home or garden or pick or could pick up at a cheap craft store for not much that make a great play doh activity:

(Always supervise your child with small objects – choose age appropriate objects in your play)

  1. Leaves
  2. Feathers
  3. Flower Petals
  4. Pinecones
  5. Acorns
  6. Conkers
  7. Shells
  8. Pebbles
  9. Pasta
  10. Cheerios
  11. Spaghetti
  12. Buttons
  13. Beads
  14. Straws
  15. Cotton Buds
  16. Keys
  17. Golf Tees
  18. Bottle Tops
  19. Jam Jar Lids
  20. Cotton Reels
  21. Coins
  22. Icelolly Sticks
  23. Pegs
  24. Corks
  25. Wool
  26. Birthday Candles
  27. Googly Eyes
  28. Pipe Cleaners
  29. Pompoms
  30. Foam letters / numbers
  31. Craft Matchsticks
  32. Lego / Duplo Bricks
  33. Wooden blocks
  34. Mr Potato Head Body Parts
  35. Toy Animals / Bugs / Dinosaurs
  36. Toy Figures (eg. Lego / Playmobil)

Playdough loose parts play ideas are one of the simplest ways to play with playdough – this list is not exhaustive – I’m sure you’ll find many more for your loose parts play at home with little ones!

How do I encourage imagination and creativity with playdough mats?

I only discovered printable playdough mats a few years ago, and I immediately fell in love with them!

It is such a great way for children to be guided in their play but with free reign to create whatever they want.

Printable playdough mats are best when printed (as the name would suggest!) and then laminated, as this means they can be used again and again and can be wiped down after each use, but don’t worry if you aren’t able to laminate, they can be used straight from the printer and thrown away when no longer usable.

Here are some great printable playdough mat ideas that your kids will love:

How do I make play doh pretend food with printable playdough mats?

imaginative play playdough food

  1. Plate Mat – Create a favourite meal (could also use a plastic plate)
  2. Pizza Mat – Create Pizza Toppings (could also use a pizza box)
  3. Cake stand – Display Birthday Cakes and cupcakes (could also use a card cake stand)
  4. Gingerbread Mat – Use playdough to make buttons, eyes, nose or whatever you like!
  5. Picnic Rug – You can make any food you like – even have a teddy bear’s picnic!
  6. BBQ Grill – Steaks, sausages, burgers – have some fun making some delicious looking barbeque food
  7. Ice-cream Cone – Choose your flavour, add some sprinkles and don’t forget to add a chocolate flake!
  8. Shopping Basket / Trolley – A great opportunity for your child to choose exactly what goes in the shopping trolley (if they don’t already!)

Setting The Scene With Playdough Mats

  1. At the Beach – When you can’t get to the beach, bring it home!
  2. Outer Space – A great prompt for the imagination with endless possibilities!
  3. Under the Sea – What sea creatures can you find with this playdough mat?
  4. Up in a Tree – If you know the story of the Far Away Tree, you’ll know there are endless things to find up a tree when you let your imagination run wild…
  5. The Garden – Have a go at growing something, you can’t go wrong!
  6. In the Sky – Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It’s anything you want it to be!
  7. Along the Road – Recreate some car journey sightings with this fun mat
  8. A Snowy Day – I love snow, but there never seems to be enough of it where we live so I love this playdough mat – excellent with some white playdough with an added touch of glitter for that snowy sparkle!

play dough mats free printables toddler

I love scenery mats because they give so much freedom for the child to be as creative as they like and really encourages them to think about their surroundings

Why not download this FREE set of scenery playdough mats, complete with ideas and suggestions sheet to help get the creativity flowing!

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Get your Creative Playdough Nature Mats with Ideas & Suggestions Sheet for hours of fun!

Learning Through Play With Printable Playdough Mats

  1. Number / Letter Outlines  – For older toddlers this is a great way to start thinking and exploring letters and numbers by tracing them with playdough strands
  2. Counting Tree – Using a fruit that grows on a tree you can start learning to count apples or pears as you make them together for your tree

Miscellaneous Play Doh Mats

  1. Face mat – Have an outline of a face and have you child create the features, talk about different emotions as they do so
  2. Body Mat – Make clothes for the body, dress the person, talk about what your child might wear and whether it is hot or cold outside
  3. Animal faces – Another great face mat, don’t forget to add the lions mane or the kangaroo’s ears!
  4. Plant Pots – Have you child create some plants and flowers to grow out of the plant pot
  5. Birds Nest – Create birds, or birds egg, or just carry on building the nest with some playdough twigs
  6. Washing line – Hang out some clothes to dry – or even teddy!

As an alternative to playdough mats, you could also use lots of props from around the home as suggested – get creative in using what you already have 🙂

Developing Fine Motor Skills With Playdough Cutters & Rolling Pins

Traditional playdough accessories should not be overlooked – they are key to childhood development and also give the child a great scope for creativity

Cutting is a great way for children to develop fine motor skills which are super important in early childhood and mark making in playdough is also great for fine motor skills practice


  1. Animals – Farmyard, to zoo, to Jurrasic park – there are endless options!
  2. People – Maybe make a family of people and talk about who everyone is
  3. Shapes – A great way to learn new shapes is by cutting them out
  4. Numbers – Use number cutters to start number recognition
  5. Letters – And the same with letters
  6. Gingerbread people – I love this classic cutter
  7. Vehicles – Kids love to see how things move (as well as cutting out vehicles you could use tyre tracks from a toy car)
  8. Themed Sets – There are so many different sets you can buy now, so if your little one is into something particular why not search to see if you can get some playdough cutters that will get them excited to get stuck in!

Freehand Cutting

fine motor skills activities cutting with playdough

  1. Toddler safe scissors – Obviously this is a supervised activity but this a great way to develop fine motor skills in playing and playdough is a safe and easy way to do this
  2. Plastic Knives – Another great way is to use blunt plastic knives to carve shapes or add details to playdough creations

Rolling Pins & Imprinting

These Textured Rolling Pins are a great addition to any playdough supplies!

  1. Textured – You can get lots of textured or embossing rolling pins that will create patterns as you roll
  2. Big – It’s great for children to learn how to handle something much bigger than they’re used to as this will also build strength and give them spacial awareness
  3. Small – Small rolling pins are great for developing fine motor skills and experimenting with pressure
  4. Cake Tools – There are lots of tools out there designed for cake making and decorating, like a ball tool, which are great for making imprints and shapes in playdough
  5. Cake Smoother – This is another great playdough hack – use a smoother normally used for icing a cake to see how smooth you can make playdough
  6. Plastic Fork – This is another great tool for mark making

77 Playdough Activities For Toddlers Recap:

These 77 playdough activities for toddlers are super easy to put together, here’s a quick look at the activities you could try:

  • Playdough loose parts play at home for toddlers with endless possibilities
  • Printable Playdough Mats – lots of ideas to try including the free printable playdough mats below
  • Playdough Cutters & Rolling Pin suggestions for developing fine motor skills with playdough play

I’d love to hear any great playdough tips you have to share in the comments below 🙂

(And don’t forget to download your free playdough mats!)

Have fun with these playdough activities for toddlers!

Louisa | Mum’s Creative Cupboard x

Get the Freebie!

Get your Creative Playdough Nature Mats with Ideas & Suggestions Sheet for hours of fun!

Toddler playdough activities for creative play using mats, cutters and loose parts to spark imagination