Playdough Fun with Books

Playdough might be the most perfect universal material for the early childhood classroom. It is so versatile! Here’s a great way to scaffold the learning of the children in your early education programs.

For younger students, math is still an abstract concept.  Being able to manipulate objects to visually see quantity in a three-dimensional way can support their developing understanding of math concepts.  

Using familiar books combined with play dough will entice these young students to practice adding in a hands-on way.

Screenshot 2019-02-03 at 3.25.30 PM (1)

What You Need:
Play dough in various colors
Story mats (you can make these yourself)
2 pieces of white paper (one for drawing the character and one for writing the equations)
Marker (black or blue)
Plastic sheet protector
Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire

What You Do:

First, draw the bear character from the book on one of the pieces of paper. The easiest way to draw the character is by tracing. After you trace the character, you can outline it with a dark marker.

Insert your drawing into the sheet protector. If you happen to have a laminator then you can also laminate.

Set up the colored play dough on a table.

Invite your student to listen to the story. As you read the book, ask questions such as, “How many red spots do you think he has on his body?” or,
“How many colors have we seen so far?”

When you are done reading the story, show her your drawing of the character in the book. Explain that she will use the play dough to make his spots and will count how many spots he has.

You can begin by showing an example of how the play dough will be manipulated so that she can follow: Choose one color of play dough and shape a small piece into a ball. Then set it on top of the character. Repeat. After setting a few pieces, do the same with another color of play dough. Repeat until there are a few play dough balls on the character.

Now you will show her the addition part: Ask her how many balls there are. For example, “How many red balls are there? Let’s count.” Ask her to write the total on the other piece of paper.  Then, add the other color of balls, asking, “Now how many green balls do we have?” Again, write the number on the paper.

Now have her add together the total amount of balls, and write the answer on the paper.

Continue this process by having her use the other various colors of play dough.

Screenshot 2019-02-03 at 3.23.09 PM (1)

This activity can be done with many popular story books, such as:
Ten Apples Up On Top! by Dr. Seuss
Ten Black Dots by Donald Crews
Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 by Bill Martin Jr.


For further activities I suggest checking out the link below, they have a wide variety of activity ideas for preschool up to 5th grade.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s