8 Ways Playdoh Benefits Toddler Development

Discover the benefits of Sensory Play and Playdoh | Aussie Kindies child care centre

Playdoh provides a fun and engaging way for toddlers and young children to explore, create, and learn across multiple domains of development. Its versatility, sensory appeal, and open-ended nature make it a valuable addition to early childhood play and education. Here we share eight ways toddlers benefit from playing with playdoh, plus a recipe to make your own playdoh at home.

1. Fine Motor Skills Development

Manipulating playdoh by squeezing, rolling, pinching, and moulding it helps strengthen the muscles in children’s hands and fingers. This improves their dexterity and fine motor skills, which are essential for activities like writing, drawing, buttoning clothes, and using utensils.

2. Creativity and Imagination

Playdoh is a versatile medium that encourages children to use their imaginations and creativity. They can sculpt anything they can think of, from simple shapes to elaborate creations like animals, buildings, or vehicles. This open-ended play promotes divergent thinking and problem-solving skills as children explore different possibilities and experiment with designs.

3. Sensory Stimulation

The tactile experience of playdoh provides valuable sensory input for young children. They can explore different textures, colours, and consistencies, stimulating their sense of touch, sight, and sometimes even smell (especially with scented playdoh varieties). This sensory-rich play contributes to sensory integration and helps children process sensory information more effectively.

4. Language and Communication Skills

Playing with playdoh often leads to rich language experiences. Children may describe their creations, name colours and shapes, and engage in pretend play scenarios with their playdoh characters. This verbal interaction strengthens vocabulary, communication skills, and storytelling abilities as children narrate their imaginative adventures.

5. Emotional Regulation

Playdoh can be a calming and soothing activity for children, particularly those who may benefit from sensory input for emotional regulation. The repetitive motions of kneading and shaping the dough can help children relax and focus, providing a sense of comfort and control.

6. Math and Science Exploration

Playdoh can serve as a hands-on tool for introducing basic math and science concepts. Children can explore concepts like shapes, sizes, quantities, and spatial relationships as they manipulate the dough. They can also conduct simple experiments, such as sinking objects into playdoh to learn about density or creating patterns and symmetry.

7. Social Interaction and Collaboration

Playing with playdoh in a group setting encourages social interaction, cooperation, and sharing. Children can collaborate on projects, share tools and ideas, and learn to take turns. This collaborative play fosters empathy, teamwork, and positive social skills development.

8. Cognitive Development

Engaging with playdoh promotes cognitive skills such as problem-solving, planning, and decision-making. Children face challenges as they figure out how to achieve their desired shapes or structures, enhancing their cognitive flexibility and creativity.

Homemade Playdoh Recipe


  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 3/4 cup salt
  • 4 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 to 1.5 cups boiling water (adjust as needed)
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Essential oils or extracts for scent (optional)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and cream of tartar. Stir until well combined.
  2. Add the vegetable oil to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. Colour and scent (optional):
    • Colour: If you want coloured playdough, add a few drops of food colouring to the boiling water before pouring it into the dry ingredients. Stir until the colour is evenly distributed.
    • Scent: For scented playdough, add a few drops of essential oils or extracts (such as vanilla, peppermint, lavender) to the boiling water before mixing with the dry ingredients. Adjust the amount based on your preference.
  4. Carefully pour the boiling water into the dry ingredients while stirring continuously. Start with 1 cup of boiling water and add more as needed to achieve the desired dough consistency. The dough should come together and form a smooth, pliable ball.
  5. Allow the playdough to cool for a few minutes until it’s safe to handle. Transfer the dough onto a clean surface and knead it for a few minutes until it’s smooth and elastic. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour; if it’s too dry, add a few drops of water.
  6. Your homemade playdough is ready for play! Store it in an airtight container or resealable bag when not in use to keep it fresh and prevent drying out.

Variations and tips:

  • Gluten-free playdough: Use gluten-free flour to make playdough for children with gluten sensitivities or allergies.
  • Natural colours: Instead of food colouring, consider using natural colorants like beetroot juice (for pink/red), turmeric (for yellow), spinach or matcha powder (for green), and cocoa powder (for brown).
  • Texture add-ins: Add texture to your playdough by mixing in items like glitter, small beads, or fine sand for sensory play.
  • Storage: Keep homemade playdough in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life. If it becomes too dry, knead in a few drops of water to revive it.
  • Supervision: Adult supervision is recommended, especially during the boiling water stage, as it can be a safety concern for young children.

Playdough is a wonderful sensory experience for children. Learn more about the benefits of sensory play.