Play dough nature printing in preschool

Today is National Play-Doh day!

Shara Lawrence Wiess of Early Childhood News and Resources is great about remembering special or unique holidays and this one of them – be sure to see all her ideas here!

I was trying to come up with something different to do with play-dough and my brother suggested that I try some nature printing. I didn’t have any play-dough on hand so I borrowed a recipe from Polwig and made my own!

I wanted to make fall colors so I added red, yellow and a mixture of red and yellow to make orange play-dough. I have to say that it only took me about 20 minutes to whip all of these colors up. I forgot how easy it really is to make your own play-dough.

Next, I went out into my back yard and gathered up some leaves, acorns, walnuts, and a few sticks. I wanted to find a pine cone but you should know that I started this so late that I was hunting for these things in the dark with a flashlight! I recommend taking your class out to hunt for nature items during the day – it is much easier :-).

I brought my basket of nature items inside then started playing. I pinched of a few colors of play-dough and rolled them out.

Then I selected nature items from my basket to press into the dough. I had no idea which items would leave a good print but found it really didn’t matter. There is just something relaxing and inviting about decorating the dough with the nature items.

My acorns and walnuts left nice deep prints. I could take them out of their spot then put them right back again – kind of like a puzzle.

My leaf print was a little more difficult to see. The stem was great but the leaf shape was a little more of a challenge to make and to see.

After I finished making my collage of nature on play-dough, I decided that this would be fun for the kids at school to try so I put the play-dough in little baggies and my walnuts and acorns in the basket to take them all with me to school. I will let the children go and find more leaves and other symbols of fall to add to the collection I have started.

Do you have any cool play dough ideas? I would love to hear about them.  Leave a comment below or linky up if you have a post so I can check it out!

By |2010-09-17T08:00:48+00:00September 17th, 2010|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Iris Somnus September 17, 2010 at 9:02 am - Reply

    Fun stuff!!! You can use dough cutter to cut the edges into a shaped frame; square, triangle, rectangle shaped; then, they can have shapes in their learning too =) …some extra fun…

  2. polwig September 17, 2010 at 10:09 am - Reply

    What a great idea… I love it… I actually picked up some acorns and leaves and was wondering how to incorporate them into our play other then stamping. Thank you

  3. Amanda Morgan September 17, 2010 at 11:50 am - Reply

    The kids love to stick things into the playdough, so whether it’s toothpicks and feathers or accessories from Mr. Potato Head they have a great time and build fine motor skills and pincer grasp strength in the process. I also set out a bottle of glitter with a batch yesterday and the kids had a blast sprinkling their “cookies” or kneading it in for glitter playdough. Playdough is awesome – I’m glad it has a holiday! 🙂
    Here are some of my favorite playdough links:
    Cinnamon Spice Playdough:
    Playing Around with Playdough:

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