Kids Art Projects: Playdough Pictures

This post was originally going to be called ‘Playdough Prints’ and though we did take prints of Immy’s creations I was once again reminded that kids art is all about the process…and that oftentimes art projects work out very differently to how you think they will! What is most important for children however is having opportunities to make art with collections of interesting materials, and this activity is perfect for inviting children to explore and create with a familiar material in new way.

Kids art ideas: Playdough Pictures

Making Playdough Pictures

kids art ideas playdough pictures prints

You will need:

  • Playdough: we used homemade playdough (recipe here) that was about a week old and which had enjoyed life previously as all manner of sculptures
  • Rolling pin
  • A collection of implements that will make interesting impressions in the dough. We used a popstick, a plastic playdough knife, a plastic playdough pattern maker, a fork and a lid. Although you use cookie cutters or stamps I wanted to choose implements that were more open ended to encourage Immy to make up her own pictures or patterns in the dough.
  • Optional – plastic placemat to protect your table surface
  • To print (optional) – child friendly acrylic paint, a small paint roller, tray, paper

To make:

kids art ideas playdough pictures

1. Flatten playdough. We started out using hands and arms as you can never have enough opportunities to develop arm and hand strength.

kids art playdough pictures

We then switched to a rolling pin, making sure that we had a nice, smooth, flat surface.

kids art playdough pictures

2. Make impressions in the playdough with your collection of implements, whether it be a series of patterns or a more representative picture. Children might start out by simply exploring the impressions each implements makes. Should they wish to start over at any stage, just roll the dough out again.

kids art ideas playdough pictures

Immy decided to make a picture of a ballerina dancing on a stage under two willow trees. Making images in the playdough surface was great fun and I saw lots of meaningful problem solving in action as Immy tried to work out which implements to use (and in what way) to form each part of the image. Drawing pictures in playdough in this manner will definitely be an activity we revisit regularly I am sure.

kids art playdough pictures

3. Making prints. Now this is where things worked out differently to how I imagined they would! The main problem being that the dough absorbed a lot of paint very quickly. If you would like to try making prints of your images then I would suggest being extra generous with your paint and working very quickly.

kids art playdough pictures

Load your roller and then roll the paint over your playdough image, being sure to cover all surfaces.

kids art playdough pictures

Place a piece of paper over the playdough and, pressing gently, use your rolling pin to transfer the printed image onto the paper.

kids art ideas playdough pictures

Peel back the paper to reveal your playdough picture. I think the finished print has the feel of an Impressionist painting, which is kind of fitting really 🙂

What have you been creating with your children recently?

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    1. It was lots of fun, Aleacia, and I loved the degree of problem solving that I saw in the drawing phase.

  1. What a super cool idea! I think I love the idea of playdough drawing without the paint too!

    1. The drawing was lots of fun, Deborah, and there was so much exploration and problem solving evident to make it extra awesome 🙂

  2. Great post. I completely agree with art being about the process and providing interesting materials to work with. We love playdough around here. My little guy is 2.5 and I look after two other children of similar age. We currently have lots of fun making imprints in play dough. I’m pinning this to inspire us down the road when they are old enough to make pictures in the dough.

  3. Love this project! It’s such a fun twist on regular printmaking. The paint looks really cool on top of the playdough, too.

  4. I have done a lot of printmaking with kids, but I have never tried this! Great idea. Have you tried it with clay? I’m curious whether the clay would absorb the paint as quickly as playdough. Thanks for the great post 🙂

  5. Jackie @ happy hooligans says:

    I love everything about this post, Christie – the simplicity, the tools, the paper and your photos – they’re gorgeous. Thanks so much for sharing on my wall today!

  6. I’ve always wanted to try this. Just wondering…. is the play dough reusable after? I teach preschool so would want to use it for a small group not as a one off.

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