8 Unique and Fun Math Playdough Activities for Primary School

Playdough activities for primary school may be common in Kindergarten but today we are focusing on Grades 3-6.

If you are new around here, we are big advocates for fun hands-on learning experiences, even in the upper primary classroom. Playdough is a tool frequently used in the early years, but we urge you not to shy away from it as students get older. 

By using playdough you can easily create hands-on, engaging learning activities that will help make abstract concepts more tangible and enjoyable for students. Plus the tactile nature of playdough adds a sensory element for students in your class who may need it. 

 

There are a wide range of benefits for using playdough activities, such as:

  • Cognitive Development (including hands-on learning, problem-solving, memory and retention)
  • Fine Motor Skills (including hand-eye coordination, dexterity and strength 
  • Social-emotional Development (including stress relief and self-expression)
  • Academic Benefits (including high engagement, concept visualisation, differentiation tool)
  • Creative and Critical Thinking (including imagination and innovation)
  • Multi-sensory Learning (including engaging multiple senses and  kinesthetic learning)

Benefits of playdough for learning

Now we have convinced you that playdough is great, let’s dive into some creative and fun ways you can engage your students in Maths using this versatile tool.

8 Unique and Fun Math Playdough Activities for Primary School:

Comparing Numbers

Teaching students about comparing numbers using greater than, less than and equal to symbols can get a little bland. We often fall into the trap of students simply recording number sentences in their workbooks.

Try spicing up this lesson with playdough. 

Students can create their own ‘greater than’, ‘less than’ and ‘equal to’ symbols using the playdough and then compare numbers of any size. 

Mix it up! Students have the symbols on cards for students but create the numerals using the playdough. Give students the opportunity to ‘play’ and see how creative they get!

playdough activities for primary school

This activity is easily differentiated because students can be working with different sized numbers to suit their learning abilities and needs.  

 

Creating Arrays

Drawing dots on a page can get messy and let’s face it, boring! We love the idea of using playdough to create arrays and a visual representation of multiplication and division. 

There are 2 ways to go about using playdough to make arrays:

  1. Ask students to cut out shapes to arrange into an array8 Unique and Fun Math Playdough Activities for Primary School - Rainbow Sky Creations
  2. Roll out a flat pancake and students use their finger to mark out the array

playdough activities for primary school

Extend students by asking them to record the number sentences that match the arrays they create. 

 

Area and Perimeter

Ask students to build 2D shapes and then use a ruler to measure the perimeter. 

Using these same shapes they can calculate the area, reinforcing the concepts of length and surface area. 

As students create their shapes, it would be fun to compare creations and ask students to estimate who has the shape with the largest or smallest area, justifying their answer using mathematical language. Finally, students can reveal their calculations and discover if their estimates were reasonable.

playdough activities for primary school

Making a number line

We have shared about making number lines using playdough for younger students, but it is still a great activity for older learners too.

playdough number line

Instead of using numbers, mix it up and ask students to place fractions or decimals along a number line. 

While we are talking fractions, ask students to show how different fractions can be equivalent by creating different shapes that represent the same part of a whole using playdough (e.g. 1/2, 2/4, 4/8). 

playdough activities for primary school

Measuring Angles

Creating angles out of playdough is another fun and hands-on way to explore this concept. If you are teaching Grades 3-4 they may just be labelling the different angles they create using mathematical language. 

playdough activities for primary school

As students move on to learning about how to measure angles, provide them with a protractor to measure each playdough angle. Working on this task with partners would be a lot more engaging than measuring a group of angles on a sheet of paper. 

playdough activities for primary school

Order of Operations

Move over worksheets when teaching your students about the order of operations. Have them create their own number sentences using digit cards and playdough for the mathematical symbols. 

Students can work individually or in pairs to solve each other’s algorithm using a whiteboard. 

playdough activities for primary school

Working on Time

Create an open-ended task for students by giving the brief to craft a clock face with playdough and other math manipulatives. Upon completion, students practice telling the time by manipulating the hands of the clock or work on elapsed time problem-solving.

playdough activities for primary school

Probability Experiments

Conduct simple probability experiments by using playdough pieces of different colours and recording the outcomes of various trials.

Students could graph their results.

playdough activities in primary school


 

Incorporating playdough activities in primary school provides an interactive approach to learning that supports various developmental areas and enhances the overall educational experience for students, even as they get older. 

 

It could be just what you need to turn the most reluctant student into one who is eager to participate. Give it a try!

 

Looking to keep your Maths lessons engaging? Grab our freebie: 6 ways to create maths lessons students love.

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Get your copy here. 

What to read next:

A free game to help your students learn their times tables 

6 sensory rest ideas for your classroom

The science of reading – This is where to start

 

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