Kids learn best when they are engaged, and what engages kids? PLAY. That is what this blog is all about- using play as a way to engage kids. To help them build background knowledge for future lessons. To help solidify learning from prior lessons. To deepen understanding of current knowledge. Play does all that! Let’s dig into some ways that play dough can be used to promote preschool learning in the science domain!


Putting Together a Play Dough Tray

I found this nice, wooden chip tray at a thrift store. It was a steal and I use it on the regular for everything but chips! It is a staple in Invitations to Play, specifically in Play Dough learning trays like these!

When I create a Play Dough Tray, I think of a theme we are covering (usually is an interest-led theme as I don’t use a curriculum for preschoolers), and gather simple supplies to highlight some educational aspect of that theme. Here are some Science themed play dough trays the I have done in the past:

Flower Science Tray

In this tray, I combined green play dough with flower petals and leaves. I wanted this tray to be an opportunity to talk about the parts of plants. I wanted my kiddos to feel how thin and delicate the petals were. How, in comparison, thick and sturdy the leaves were. How the leaves left different impressions than the petals. How the petals ripped easily, and how to develop a gentle touch when manipulating them. All of this was leaned simply through playing with the materials in the tray!

Spring Tree Science Tray

This was one of my favorite trays to create! I combined small birds, insects, fruits, leaves, popsicle sticks, and brown play dough to create in invitation to make fall trees. My kids created the most beautiful trees with stems and poking out of the brown play dough. They stuck in plastic leaves and talked about the seasons. This tray gave us so many opportunities to be little play scientists!

Habitats Play Dough Tray

I combined several colors of play dough and various little animals to create this tray and invitation to explore animal habitats! The colors of play dough represented the land, water, ocean, and snow from each animal’s home.

Interested in the little animals we used? They are from Safari Ltd. and one of my preschool staples! Read more about what items I consider to be staples for home preschooling here.

All About My Eyes Tray

All About Eyes- a preschool invitation to learn and play. This is perfect for an "All About Me" theme in September!

This tray was created with so much science in mind! You’ll have to head over to the original post (here) to read what it is all about! It is far too cool to just spend one paragraph describing it 🙂

I hope you enjoyed all of these Play Dough Trays and the they inspire playful learning opportunities for you and your kids!

Want more ideas like this? Check this out!

All of these ideas came from preschool unit plans that I created with several other teachers and parents. These unit plans contain cohesive activities to help teach your preschooler new skills in a playful way!

The lessons in each book are easy to implement and save you time!

Learn more about these magical plans here!

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