I am so excited to share this unique nature study freebie with you! I think you’ll love using autumn play dough mats in your elementary homeschool for all sorts of meaningful fun and learning.
Play dough mats provide a variety of benefits. At the most basic level, molding and sculpting dough helps to exercise fine motor skills. This is an important practice for preschoolers, but don’t count out the need to continue working on fine motor skills with children into the elementary years, too!
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What is a play dough mat?
Play dough mats, quite simply, provide pictures that encourage children to build models using play dough. It might seem simple enough to see a picture and craft a model, but the learning can easily go much deeper than that.
Observation skills are very important in nature study. These mats include autumn nature study pictures that encourage children of all ages to observe details in order to sculpt similar specimens. Very young children might use one or two play dough colors to make a basic shape, while older children might artistically blend colors and even use special tools to create a precise model.
Are play dough mats actually useful?
The mats can be used with younger children to teach colors, shapes, and play dough rolling techniques. Playing with the nature-themed shapes will go a long way in the identification of the various specimen images, too! In no time, little ones will be naming acorns, buckeyes, pumpkins, mushrooms, and leaves on nature walks.
As older children create, they will be able to explore the differences between two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes. Math doesn’t stop there, though. There are plenty of opportunities to talk about the names of shapes, symmetry, circumference, and other linear measurements.
As I mentioned before, a great deal of art can be encouraged with older children, too. As you can see in the example below, children can blend play dough colors to create multicolored leaves or the stripes of a pumpkin. Plus, they can use sculpting tools to include all the wonderful details, like the veins in a leaf or the spots on the top of an acorn.
How do I use a play dough mat?
Using a play dough mat is simple. Print one and give it to your child along with some play dough. You are welcome to suggest activities or allow free play. Both will lead to plenty of learning.
If you want to save printer ink, I highly suggest sliding each printable from the autumn play dough mat collection into a clear sleeve (as seen above). Children can place play dough directly on the sleeve. Once finished crafting, the sleeve can be wiped clean and reused over and over again. Another option is to laminate the mats instead.
Play Dough Mat Supplies
Download the autumn play dough mat printables below. Whether homemade or purchased, be sure you have plenty of play dough colors on hand! (If you’d rather, feel free to use clay instead.) You’ll notice that I’ve included some other fun supplies that you might want to have around the house, too.
- Play-Doh in various colors
- Desktop Laminator
- Reusable Plastic Sleeves
- Popsicle Sticks for sculpting
- Sculpting Tools
- Crayola Dough
- Modeling Clay
Download the Autumn Play Dough Mats
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