Activity: Play Dough Letters of My Name

Activity Plan

Number of Children: 6

Age Range of Children: 3 to 4.6 years

Originating Idea Based on Observation:

At the art table during Quiet Time, several children drew and coloured on paper. Child R wrote her name on her paper with some letters in mirror image. Child U also wrote his name down and the children talked about the letters of their name. R and U compared which letters they both have.

Since R, U, and their peers recognize the letters of their names and like to write and compare them, practising the shapes of the letters with play dough will help them refine their skills.

Learning Anticipated & Developmental Significance:

Physical Development

“5.3 Fine Motor Skills: Tool Use

  • stringing large beads, cutting paper with scissors, cutting a straight line”

(Best Start Expert Panel on Early Learning, 2007, p. 60)

Examples of When this Skill is Exhibited or Developed
  • combining & kneading the ingredients to make play dough
  • rolling the play dough on the table or between their hands
  • using their fingers to shape the play dough
  • cutting the play dough with scissors

Where & When Will the Activity Take Place

  • at the Art Area
  • during Sensory, Table Activities, & Creative


  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 2 cups warm/boiling water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp cream of tartar
  • food dye (optional; red, blue, yellow)
  • 6 long sheets of paper
  • 6 index cards
  • thick markers (any colour)
  • tape
  • measuring cup (size: 1 cup)
  • measuring spoon (size: 1 tbsp)
  • large-sized bowl
  • electric kettle (or small pot & stove)
  • 3 small-sized bowls
  • 2 extra-small-sized bowls
  • wooden spoon
  • spatula
  • 3 pot pie pans
  • 2 pairs of scissors


Set Up
  • Place large bowl on the table. Fill the small and extra small bowls with the play dough ingredients and set around the large bowl. Keep hot water out of reach of children until activity begins.
  • Lay out the sheets of paper on the table for each play station. Tape an index card on each sheet. Write child’s name on it when he/she joins the activity.
  • Comment on Letter of the Week and wonder aloud how I can write it and make words without using crayons and paper. Look at the materials set up and ask a child if I can use those. I will then ask if he/she could help me mix the ingredients in the large bowl.


  • “I wonder if using the wooden spoon/your hands/the spatula will make it easier to mix.”
  • “I see that you are making the letters of your name. Would you like me to write it on the big paper so you can trace it?”
  • I will use the hand-in-hand technique to help a child who may not have enough skills yet to mould the play dough.
  • I will provide smaller or larger play dough depending on the child’s needs.
  • Provide non-verbal feedback such as a smile or a thumbs up.
  • Listen actively to any stories the child may share about his/her name, parents, family, etc.
  • Offer observational comments:
    • “I see that you have made a letter C. It looks hard to do with the curve.”
    • “I notice you wrote all 5 letters of your name! Wow, that’s a lot.”
  • As a co-player, create different shapes with the play dough and combine two or more.
  • Offer additional materials (i.e. a pair of scissors) to extend their play.
  • What do you think will happen if we roll/pound/stretch the play dough? Why do you think so?


  • “In 2 minutes, *[we’ll have the other boys and girls have a chance to play and write their names, too]. I’ll leave the play dough in the art shelf if you’d like to play with it again later.” (*or [we’ll tidy up for Circle Time].)
Closure (during the 2 minutes)
  • “I noticed that you rolled the dough several times. How did that feel like? What did you enjoy the most with this activity?”
  • “Who would like to smush the play dough together? And who would like to make it a ball for me before we put it back in the bowl?”
  • “When you go to the circle, you can hold hands like play dough stuck together or you can go on your own like an independent play dough.”

Observations & Reflections

  • The children used the markers to “write” on the play dough and colour it after observing how the ink on the paper transferred onto the play dough when they placed the dough on the paper. Some children used a palmer grasp and others used the pincer grasp to handle the markers.




  • The children also pressed the playdough and kneaded it with their palms to create different shapes and designs.


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