I make homemade play dough with my children every now and then (and it lasts a LONG time in the fridge in between when we are playing with it). They get bored with just playing with the dough, though, so I created a puzzle from dough that we would be throwing out anyway.
You could use store bought play dough as well for this.  (Note: If you make homemade play dough, add a little cinnamon or nutmeg to add a scent to the experience.)
Polaroid photos showing kids kneading and pulling play dough. Text reads Homemade play dough puzzles to diy at home.

How we made our Play Dough Puzzle:

Make a homemade playdough puzzle. A DIY puzzle that uses play dough for the puzzle and pieces.

Before you create the play dough puzzle, make homemade playdough! Try a sensory recipe that smells great by adding cinnamon to your favorite playdough recipe or make this no cook gingerbread playdough recipe. Then, you are ready to make it into a fun puzzle.

1) Flatten a ball of play dough to about 1/4-inch thick. Using cookie cutters, punch out shapes or objects.

2) Carefully remove the punched out pieces of dough from each cutter and lay them on a towel or the counter to dry completely. This may take a couple of days depending on the humidity in your home.
3) When the “puzzle pieces” are dry, they are ready for use!
I placed the play dough puzzle on a plate and you could even glue it onto a paper plate for better stability. My child then tried to match each puzzle piece with its matching space in the puzzle.
(To add more fun, your child could paint the pieces before you play. View these other DIY Puzzle Ideas too!)

Optional: You could cut small lengths (maybe an inch long) of ribbon and, while the play dough puzzle pieces are still moist, use a chop stick or butter knife to press in an end of the ribbon into each piece so that when the pieces dry they have a little handle.

This can be added using glue when the pieces are dry as well.


5) If desired, you can add some literacy to the experience: make traced cards with each object’s title to create a word-association extension activity.

  • Cut construction paper into enough small rectangles so that each puzzle piece has its own card.
  • On each rectangle, place one puzzle piece and trace around it.
  • Below each tracing, label the item so your child is exposed to print and vocabulary as well. This homemade play dough puzzle matching game is a great learning activity to add in to our preschool at home curriculum.

6) Place the puzzle and word-cards on a level surface and play with your child. I started with the pieces on their respective word-cards so I could point to the word and say its name while my child picked up the piece to place it in the puzzle.

You can reverse the game as well and start with the pieces in the puzzle-it is a fine motor exercise for little fingers and bigger fingers alike to remove the pieces from the puzzle. Even the small cutout pieces and the word-cards are their own puzzle.

This is homemade fun for preschool or toddlers! If the homemade playdough puzzle falls and breaks it can be repaired with glue…or thrown away since it was free anyway. (More of an excuse to make another.)

What is your child’s favorite puzzle right now?

How to teach a toddler activity free download guide for subscribers to the stay at home mom survival guide.
Child with chef hat on kneading dough with their hands. Text reads homemade play dough puzzle for kids.
Make a homemade playdough puzzle. A DIY puzzle that uses play dough for the puzzle and pieces.
For more homemade play dough fun check out this post:
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