Mark making with play dough

Help your child learn pre-writing skills through mark making with play dough.
mark making with play dough

Mark making with play dough

We are huge fans of play dough in our house. We’ve just made a new batch using our favourite play dough recipe with some orange essence added to bring some smelly sensory fun.

I find play dough is a great activity for after school, especially if we have a mixed age group of children playing. It’s very relaxing as it has the lovely touchy-feely aspect of sensory play and there’s no right or wrong way to play with it – so however old you are (grandparents included!) you can enjoy it, without finding it frustrating or needing any grown-up interference.

making marks in play dough

Today I thought I’d mention how fabulous play dough is on the road to learning to write. While you might not associate dough with holding a pencil, all the kneading and shaping you do as you play is just right for building up fine motor skills – giving little fingers lots of practise in mobility, grasping and manipulating.

pre-writing practise with play dough

If your child is showing an interest it’s easy to extend the play by providing something to ‘write’ with, whether it’s a blunt pencil, stick, feather or other tool. By sitting alongside your child as they play you can model mark making, gently suggesting different patterns to try and seeing if they’d like to copy.

mark making activities for preschool

Try using a variety of marks which correspond to the shapes included when you eventually begin to write letter characters: horizontal and vertical lines, zigzags, circles, waves and loops.

You might find that children who are otherwise reluctant to ‘write’ do enjoy this kind of mark making. It’s a good option to introduce early writing skills to children who show little interest in pencils and paper.

super sensory footerSuper Sensory Invitations to Play

Ready for a whole year of exploring through the senses? Super Sensory Invitations to Play is a delightful resource that encourages your children to explore the five senses through the year, using a wide variety of sensory materials. It includes 52 invitations to play, linked to the festivals and seasons of the year, and including water, ice, dough, rice, paints, sand, sensory tubs, and more.

They are easy, simple, and fun ideas that you can use right now to give a multi-sensory boost to your play and learning. It comes with a printable recipe book featuring all our favourite recipes for play. Come and see more here.


  1. says

    I just finished making a new batch of playdough during nap time and then sat down to read a few blogs before the kids woke up and this is what popped up in my reader!! funny! Great ideas. I’m going to try them out with my kiddo this afternoon.

  2. says

    Thanks for the reminder – it’s time we made a new batch! I love playdough for its ability to calm frazzled little people! And as you say, I find that it’s one of the few activities that works for both my 2 year old and my 4 year old, at the same time!

    We like to add glitter to ours sometimes, as well as lavender oil.

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