Playing with play dough or any type of play clay gives your child creative outlets as well as engages them in sensory play. There are so many toys and tools to incorporate into your play dough play. But if your child loves play dough as much as mine does and wants to play with play dough all the time, you’ll want to bring in some education aspects. The perfect solution is making play dough mats.
What is a play dough mat?
A play dough mat is a laminated piece of paper that invites the child to interact with it. The paper print out is most often educational in nature and focuses on shapes, numbers, and letters. The child is invited to shape the play dough to interact with the mat in some way.
Why make a play dough mat
- Educational – You can find all types of mats which means you can have your child work on a number of disciplines.
- Creative – Play dough mats can foster a lot of creativity. If you go the fun and whimsical route, your child can be putting horns on unicorns or wings on pigs. There is nothing that’s off limits.
- Fine Motor Skill Building – Working with play dough helps child develop their fine motor skills. Rolling and shaping play dough requires the small muscles in a child’s hands. Additionally, placing the dough on the mat in specific spots also requires precise movements. The entire activity promotes fine motor skills.
- Sensory Play – Play dough is a great sensory activity. Kids will love the feel and smell of play dough as they interact with it.
How to make a play dough mat?
1 – Get a piece of paper. Be sure to select the size of the paper based on your laminator or encasing.
2 – Sketch out your design. Larger, simpler designs work best for a play dough mat.
3 – Color your mat and/or outline with a bold color. I recommend a black permanent marker or black crayon. This will give the child a clear guide for where to place the play dough.
4 – Laminate! Here are a few ways to cover your paper to make it usable again and again.
- Laminate with a laminator – this will probably be your best option to keep your play dough mats usable over and over again. With this option you can clean it easily and your paper won’t get damaged.
- Place in sheet protector. This will keep your paper almost entirely protected and you can switch out the paper easily. This means you only really need one protector for your many sheets. Just be cautious of the opening because once play dough gets in the opening your paper can get ruined.
- Contact Paper – if you have clear contact paper you can create a pocket to place the paper in. You can clean this up but probably won’t hold up as much as a laminated mat. What is great about this option is you can roll this up to store if needed.
- Plastic bag – if you have a clear plastic zip lock bag you can place the paper in it and tape the bag down. This will work like a sheet protector.
- Plastic wrap – This should be your last resort. While it’s always on hand, it won’t hold up as well as the other options. Tape down your paper and then tape down the cling wrap on top.
Here’s a quick mat I made using some clear contact paper. I got this at the dollar store but you can buy this at many different stores.
We hope this has helped you create some play dough mats of your own.