These free back to school play dough mats will be an easy transition activity for students during the back to school season. They are versatile and can be used with toddlers and elementary school students.

Learning with play dough is one of my favorite activities because, to be honest, I haven’t met a kid who didn’t at least entertain play dough. 🙃 There are also countless learning activities you can incorporate using play dough. One of these activities is play dough mats.

I love using play dough mats for learners to create pictures on. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t also enjoy creating pictures using play dough. It’s a very engaging, soothing, and creative activity.

Why Use Play Dough Mats?

  1. Fine Motor Skills
    • Play dough mats are great to help strengthen fine motor muscles in the fingers and hands. The rolling, forming, and laying the dough can directly help children when they grasp objects and even get them prepared to write!
  2. Self-regulation
    • Play dough is a wonderful self-regulation activity! Squeezing, rolling, breaking, and pressing the dough is great for sensory input and can help release any tension or energy a child may be feeling, especially as they get back into the routine of school!
  3. Creativity
    • It goes without saying that play dough is enjoyable. It also goes without saying that getting back into the routine of learning after a break takes a minute. Using these mats will get those creative juices flowing. The mats provide color guides for forming each picture, but students can always use their own imagination! They can even add other crafting pieces like jewels or buttons.

How to Use Play Dough Mats

One of the best things about these free back to school play dough mats is that they are super simple to prep!

Personally, I printed, laminated, and cut out. You can also print, cut out, and place in baggies or sheet protectors if you don’t have a laminator.

Once the learner has picked the play dough mat they’d like to use, they identify the school word they’re working with (why not add a little classifying to our art?!) and decide where they’re starting!

Tips for Preschool

I’d put a few cards in centers for younger learners. For each card, I’d have a tray or bin with the matching play dough colors and a mix of play dough tools to choose from.

Tips for Elementary

For kindergarten, I’d use the same steps as those for preschool. For 1st grade and up, I would do this as a table team activity/ice breaker. Put several cards, matching play dough colors, and tools in a bin; set a timer for 10ish minutes; have students construct their own picture and discuss/get to know each other; when the 10 minutes is up, give each student one minute to discuss their picture.

*Check out my post on setting up cooperative learning structures! to learn more about how to get students efficiently communicating.

I’d also have students walk around the room to look at other artwork.

How Do I Get These?!

I’m glad you asked! 😍

Get these free back to school play dough mats and welcome your students back with an easy, enjoyable activity. Just fill out your information below and I’ll send it on over!

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