I love play dough. Actually, I love almost all of those sensory play type doughs. Slime, cloud dough, oobleck – you name it, I’ve probably tried it and loved it.
But I often find that I don’t really know what to do with it.
After the initial ‘oh this feels interesting’ I often start to wonder what to actually do with it.
So I love playdough mats that introduce fun prompts. And these monster ones were a lot of fun to make.
Monster Play Dough Mats
I’m absolutely in love with these playdough mats. I had so much fun playing with them to get some in action photos.
There are 5 different pages (included in both black and white and color) – each with their own prompt. Instead of just naming them myself, I included a space where you can name each monster.
- ________ is always hungry. Add some food for them to eat.
- _________ loves hats – all kinds of hats. Can you design some new hats for them?
- _________ collects silly human things. Can you add some silly things that they have found?
- ______ likes to make silly faces. Can you give them a silly face?
- _____ has always wanted a bedroom of their own. Can you design their bedroom?
Why is Play Dough Useful?
As a kid I just thought play dough was play dough – a fun toy.
As an adult I see it’s usefulness in sensory play and fine motor skills. Not to mention creativity!
We are realizing more and more that a lot of kids have unmet sensory needs. And kids that are sensory seeking need more sensory output. Play dough (and other similar doughs) are great outlets for kids that are sensory seeking.
Play dough is also fantastic for fine motor skills.
The rolling, pinching, and manipulation of the dough helps develop the muscles in our fingers, hands, wrists, and even lower arms.
So a fun afternoon of play dough play is developing multiple skill sets!
How to Use the Monster Playdough Mats
These mats are meant to be pretty open ended. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to play with them.
But if you have a child who isn’t sure, feel free to encourage them just to have fun with it!
This prompt encourages you to make a silly face for the monster. You might start by having your child make silly faces in a mirror. Then determine how you can give the monster the same face with play dough!
The hat prompt was one of my favorites. I wanted to create some really big and ostentatious hats but settled with a polka dot beanie.
If your child is struggling here you might suggest they recreate a hat they own, find a hat in a book to replicate, or ask if they can make the tallest hat in the world.
Make Your Own Play Dough
I really love Playdoh brand play dough – you just cannot match that familiar smell with homemade dough.
However, when you make your own dough you can adjust the firmness of the dough. And that is a little important if you’re trying to build fine motor skills.
As your child’s hands grow stronger, you may want to adjust the recipe to make the dough a bit firmer over time. Just add a little more flour to the batch to get a slightly firmer.
We’ve used the same recipe for many years now and have been quite happy with it:
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2 tbsp oil (any oil will do, but I prefer to use canola oil)
- 2 tbsp cream of tartar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- (optional) food coloring, glitter, or any extras.
Add all the ingredients to a pot and mix. Set on medium heat. Stir until the mixture starts to pull away and forms a ball.
The dough will be hot when you first get it out but usually cools quickly. Knead until it’s the consistency you want.