Playdough Shape Mats | Chicago Therapy

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Playdough Shape Mats

Playdough is a timeless childhood favorite, and it’s not just about squishy fun! It’s a powerful tool for early learning and development. Our Playdough Shape Mats activity combines the tactile joy of playdough with the essential skill of shape recognition, creating a multi-sensory experience that engages children’s minds and bodies.

Why Learning Shapes is Important (and Fun!)

  • Builds a Foundation for Math and Literacy: Shape recognition is a key component of early math skills. It helps children understand spatial relationships, identify patterns, and develop a sense of geometry. These skills lay the groundwork for more complex mathematical concepts later on.
  • Enhances Visual Discrimination: Distinguishing between different shapes strengthens visual discrimination skills, which are essential for reading, writing, and recognizing letters and numbers.
  • Develops Fine Motor Skills: Rolling, pinching, and shaping playdough strengthens the small muscles in children’s hands and fingers, improving their dexterity and coordination. These skills are crucial for tasks like writing, buttoning clothes, and using utensils.
  • Sparks Creativity and Imagination: Playdough is an open-ended material that encourages children to explore, experiment, and express their creativity. They can build, sculpt, and create whatever their imaginations dream up, fostering a love of learning and discovery.

How Playdough Shape Mats Work

Our Playdough Shape Mats activity is simple yet incredibly effective. Each mat features a different 2D shape, along with a real-life image of that shape. Children use the playdough to trace the outline of the shape, then roll and mold it to fill in the space. This hands-on approach engages multiple senses, making the learning experience more meaningful and memorable.

What’s Included in the Activity

  • 12 Printable Shape Mats: Featuring 12 common 2D shapes, including squares, triangles, rectangles, rhombuses, hexagons, pentagons, octagons, trapezoids, stars, parallelograms, circles, and ovals.
  • Real-Life Images: Each mat includes a colorful image of a real-world object that represents the shape, helping children connect abstract concepts to their everyday experiences.
  • Clear Instructions: Easy-to-follow instructions for parents, teachers, and therapists.
  • Additional Activity Ideas: Suggestions for extending the learning and fun beyond the basic activity.

How to Prepare and Use

  1. Print: Download and print the shape mats on cardstock or regular paper.
  2. Laminate (Optional): Laminating the mats will make them more durable and wipe-clean.
  3. Gather Playdough and Writing Utensil: Choose a variety of colors and a utensil for tracing (e.g., pencil, marker, toothpick).
  4. Trace: Guide your child or student to trace the outline of the shape with the playdough or utensil.
  5. Build: Encourage them to fill in the shape with playdough, using their fingers to roll, pinch, and shape it.
  6. Name and Discuss: Talk about the shape’s name, its properties (e.g., sides, corners), and where else they might see it in the world.

Additional Tips

  • Make it Multi-Sensory: Offer a variety of textures of playdough for extra sensory input.
  • Use Theme-Based Mats: Create custom mats with shapes related to a theme (e.g., animals, vehicles, holidays).
  • Play Games: Turn shape building into a game, like “Guess the Shape” or “Shape Bingo.”


Playdough Shape Mats are a fantastic way to combine fun and learning. This engaging activity not only helps children learn about shapes, but also strengthens their fine motor skills, visual discrimination, and creativity. With a little playdough and a lot of imagination, the possibilities for learning and fun are endless!

Ready to get started? Download our free printable Playdough Shape Mats and unlock a world of hands-on learning for your child!

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