Play-dough Art Mat – Preschool Art Explorations

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Here is something simple to offer your child if they love working with play-dough, and you have the inspiration to introduce them to the world of fine arts. This idea came from my obsession to make every single activity meaningful and educational. I wonder sometimes if it’s a weakness or strength. Anyway, we all know how appealing play-dough is to young children.

Sometimes they can spend hours molding it in their hands. There are children who are an exception to this rule, for example, miss A. She is quite indifferent when it comes to play-dough.  However, I still set it up for her every week to help prepare hand and fingers for writing.

Playdough Art Mat - Preschool Art Explorations.

DIY play-dough mat is a great way to enrich play with creativity and bring more purpose into the simple play-dough activity. I used laminated coloring pages of famous paintings. Looking at famous artwork allows introducing children to various colors and tones. It facilitates children’s learning to do simple analyses of paintings. Children learn to identify the highlights and main characteristics. As an extension, they can be invited to add their own colors and elements to the picture. It’s a simple, but engaging way to get them to appreciate the work of fine art.

visual arts with montessori nature - playdough activity

Art and creativity are subjects I would like to include in our homeschool curriculum from the preschool age. In this activity we used materials from Art Appreciation Tool Box we received from Montessori by Mom – matching cards. Miss A chose her favorite painting. Then we picked a matching color for play-dough and found printables of painting outline to print out and laminate. There are a couple of sites you can download pictures for coloring. My favorite one is Super Coloring.

At this age, children gain the most benefit from process art that is self-driven. I have noticed that even a slight attempt to take control failed miserably. Fair enough. Most importantly the child receives an opportunity to engage deeply into their work without interruption.  It is so essential to allow children to keep that individuality in everything, really, and build their skills on this foundation.

It took me 4 years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.
-Pablo Picasso

Before working with play- dough we:

  • read about the artist
  • had a short discussion of the painting and title
  • looked at what were the most obvious elements of the artwork
  • pointed out some smaller details

Then the process began. I could tell that my daughter thoroughly enjoyed it. I printed some other pictures with artwork from different styles for the next time.

playdough activity with visual arts Montessori Nature Printable

It was a simple and fun way to engage a preschooler to explore the world of art. Next time we will attempt to paint from observation and try to replicate a similar style with paints – preschooler style.

Art Resources You Might Find Helpful in Your Classroom

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  About Anastasia. Anastasia is a former Early Childhood Teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature, a blog about Montessori - inspired and Nature-based explorations. She taught in a Montessori setting for 10 years and has been practicing the Montessori way of learning and living for the last 20 years. She loves designing engaging educational printables for children. Browse Anastasia's educational resources on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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