We have created a few unique learning to count activities with play dough in our house. It is fun because I like finding new ways to use up our homemade play dough before it is tossed away in the trash. this learning to count with playdough activity is really a DIY counting puzzle. 

It takes a little effort to make play dough, but is so inexpensive and a great sensory and fine motor tool for play for Toddlers and Preschoolers!

Let me tell you about this newest counting puzzle activity and then I will share the links for the other two play dough ideas so you can see how easy they are to create too.
I have a picture for each step in this homemade play dough puzzle so it is easy to follow.


Learning to Count with Play Dough

STEP 1-Press out your homemade play dough in one even layer on a flat surface.




STEP 2-Using a small bowl or biscuit cutter, press out circles in the dough. We made 5.




STEP 3-Separate the cut out circles from the excess play dough. We discarded the excess.


STEP 4-Using a marker cap or small cookie cutter, cut out small shapes in each circle. Cut 1 from the circle that will be labeled “1” and 2 from the circle that will be labeled “2” and so on.




STEP 5-Roll the small cut out bits into balls as shown. The circle shown will be labeled “5” so there are 5 balls cut out of it.


STEP 6-Lay the large circles and small balls on a piece of foil to let them dry. I flipped the circles a few times a day so they dried evenly on both sides. Let them dry completely before moving to the next step.




STEP 7-Using glitter glue or fabric paint, write a number on each circle to correspond to how many small holes were cut out of them. (You can just use a marker too.)


STEP 8-Place the small balls in a little bowl to keep them from rolling around, and place all the circles on a tray to create a play surface.


STEP 9-Time to play! Your child says the number and places that many balls into the cutouts in each circle, counting as they place each ball in a hole.


You may need to point to the number and say it to introduce it to your child depending on how much experience with numbers and counting your child has had previously. Free printable playdough mats are a great way to use the homemade playdough over and over again. That extends the life of it and takes one activity and turns it into two. Love that time saving.




TIP-If a circle cracks, like our “2” circle pictured, you can repair it with hot glue or white glue. Just place it on a piece of wax paper to dry and you will be set to use it again.


If you have a younger preschooler or older toddler, you can start with the balls in the cutouts and remove them while counting to reverse how the game is played. Use the circles to teach your child about putting the numbers in order too, and you can count all the little balls together to find out how many you have all together (a little intro to addition).




Learning to count does not have to cost a thing. This is an example of that.


I told you I would link to the other two play dough games so you can try those out as well.


We made a homemade experience with numbers and counting and explored a simple experience with numbers and counting using pasta and play dough.


Three play dough ideas ready for you and your child!


Looking for more inspiration for teaching your preschooler at home? Here is my list of experience with numbers and counting with activities to explore letters, numbers patterning and more.


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