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Play Dough Literacy for Preschoolers


My kiddos have been on a play dough kick lately, so I decided to add in my stash of beads and sneak in some learning while they play.  With some homemade play dough and an assortment of beads, we had fun making letters for this simple letter recognition activity!

play dough letters activity

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I have a love/hate relationship with play dough.  I see great value in the manipulative as it is being squished around between little fingers as it is great for fine motor skills and sensory play, however, I cringe when I see my kiddos not having a care in the world now that we no longer have a pretty blue and purple, but a dull brown- ha!  And they surely don't mind play dough crumbs around the house like I do! 

But this activity is simple, fun, and educational so I say you must try it at least once!


  • store bought or homemade play dough
  • Beads
  • craft stick (to make marks in playdough) or something with a pointed edge like a toothpick.

Play Dough Alphabet Activity

Yep, that is all you need for this activity!  Well, and a willing participant, of course!

To set up the activity I rolled out some playdough and then used a craft stick to write a letter.

 For some reason we chose "R" first.

I showed Little Sis how to follow the line and make her own beaded "R" by having her push the beads into the playdough.

writing in play dough

This Playdough Literacy activity is great for pre-writing and fine motor skills!

Continue tracing the letter with beads until your letter is complete!  Then... start again with a new letter!  Pick out all the beads and roll out a new "spread" of play dough to make letters in.

For another twist to this simple activity, you can provide letter flashcards and have your child make the letter in the playdough without lines to follow.

fine motor activity using play dough

Or switch gears a bit and work on name recognition, too!!

play dough literacy idea

For more simple activities using play dough, you might like:

Don't forget to check out these great fine motor activities, too!

99 fine motor ideas for ages 1 to 5

Five Little Pumpkins Cut & Paste Worksheet

The fall isn't complete without at least one pumpkin themed craft and/or learning activity!  And quite honestly, just one would be a shame!  You can easily fill up your October with pumpkin activities!  For starters have fun with this Cut and Paste Printable inspired by the book, Five Little Pumpkins!

Pumpkin Cut and Paste Printable

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Enjoy the playful rhyming text of Five Little Pumpkins with this fine motor skills activity. Bring out the scissors and invite your kiddo to cut out each of the five pumpkins and paste them along the fence.

You might also want to try this fun and simple finger play idea!

It may be a bit scary to task your child to use scissors, but it's an important skill for children to master!  My 2 year old loves snipping away at random pieces of paper while the older kiddos are working on their schoolwork.  Within reason, give your child plenty of opportunities to use learn how to use scissors properly!  And make sure you frequently tell your children that scissors are only for cutting paper.... not hair! Ha!

Although, that rule may escape them on occasion!  But that's a story for another day....

Fine Motor Pumpkin Activity

Grab a copy of Five Little Pumpkins from your library; it's a fun story to read- aloud and the kiddos will love the illustrations!

After the story, encourage your child to cut out each silly pumpkin at the bottom of the cut and paste printable and glue it onto the gate.

Prior to gluing the pumpkins on the gate, you could have your child arrange the pumpkins on the gate and say the rhyme together, taking off a pumpkin as you tell the story.

Five Little Pumpkins Printable

Your child is welcome to cut along the black dotted lines, or cut more of the white paper surrounding the pumpkin off.  Glue the pumpkins on top of the gate posts, or on top of the gate-- literally... as my 4 year old did!

  • Pumpkin Clipart Licensed to: Cait @ Sliding Into First
  • Please do not share PDF link.
  • Do not alter, sell, distribute, host printable on another site.
  • For personal use only.

 Check out more fun pumpkin themed learning activities below:

How to Teach Multiplication using Arrays

Working with arrays is a way to help visual learners understand multiplication.  An array is simply an arrangement of objects in rows and columns, so they are very useful with this math skill.  We build on the knowledge that 3+3+3 is the same as "3 groups of 3" is also the same as 3x3.

Try this festive Pumpkin Patch Array to help your visual learners understand multiplication.

multiplication array

With a visual representation of rows and columns, your child will begin to understand how to use an array to multiply {read more about arrays here}.

How to Teach Multiplication

Using an egg carton and glass pumpkin gems, we practiced multiplication facts by building several seasonal pumpkin patch arrays.  However, you can build an array with many other types of manipulatives, too!

Simply build several rows and columns using the glass pumpkin gems.  Begin by having your child create his/her own and/or have your child build arrays using numbers you call out.

For the image below, I have 3 rows of 3, which when written as a multiplication sentence is 3x3.

How to Teach Multiplication

6 rows of 4 is the same as 6 x 4, which equals 24.

An array is a wonderful way to explore multiplication!  Great for hands-on, visual learners!

More Early Elementary Pumpkin Themed Learning Activities:

More ways to practice multiplication, check some other activities we have shared:

Pumpkin Patch Name Game for Preschoolers


Most preschoolers are all about learning the letters that make up his/her own name.  As pumpkin season abounds, play this fun Name Recognition Pumpkin Patch Game!  Your preschooler will love it!

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Pumpkin Name Recognition Game

Calling all pumpkins!!  This seasonal name game for preschoolers is perfect for fall!  Your preschooler will love picking through the pumpkins to find the letters that make up his/her name.  This Name Recognition Pumpkin Patch is a great way to get your preschooler moving and learning letters in a hands-on way!

Preschool Pumpkin Game

I chose to use a pack of left over pumpkin cut-outs I had used to make our ABC Pumpkin Matching Puzzles, however, as I am writing this up, another fun way to do this activity would be to use little mini pumpkins and write a letter on each one!  Use which ever way suits your fancy-- they will both be fun, nonetheless!!


** In the event that the ground is pretty hard and dry where you are, you may want to use skewer sticks or just be ready to put some muscle into staking the pumpkins into the ground!! You've been warned!!**

Begin by writing a letter of your child's name on a pumpkin.  For a challenge, include letters that do not belong in your child's name.

Tape a popsicle stick to the back of each pumpkin.

Preschool Name Recognition Game

With the pumpkins all ready to go, head outside and create a pumpkin patch.

Stick the pumpkins into the ground all over the yard.

When the pumpkin patch is all set up, encourage your child to find the pumpkins to spell out his/her name!!

Pumpkin Name Game

Either call out a specific letter for your child to look for, or see if he/she can put the letters in the correct order all by themselves.  You could also write the child's name in chalk nearby so that they have something to self-check against.

As the child finds the letters in his/her name, have them place them into the correct order.

To reinforce the letters, have the child point and say the letters in the order they appear in their name.

And, since our pumpkin cut-outs consisted of two different sizes, we were able to extend learning by talking about big and little and sorting the pumpkins into two groups, too.

Name Recognition Game for Preschoolers

Such a fun and cute way for your preschooler to learn the letters in his/her name!!

Turn name recognition for your preschooler into a fun game with this Pumpkin Patch Name Game!!

It's fun!

It's simple!


More Preschool Pumpkin Ideas!!

Spider Web Noun Sort

Practice sorting nouns with our spider themed noun sort activity.  It's the perfect activity to use during the fall months when spider decorations are in abundance for Halloween.  Kiddos will love that it is hands-on and is adaptable for students in 1st-3rd grade.

Noun Sort Grammar Game for Kids
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Fun Grammar Game for Kids

I love creating hands-on activities for my kiddos; and I prefer activities that I can either make myself with a few manipulatives versus printing things out.  I understand others may just be the opposite, so we are sharing two versions of our Spider Web Noun Sort-- a printable and non-printable version!

To set up the non-printable version of this Spider themed noun sort, you'll need:

  • 3 paper plates
  • post it notes
  • plastic spider rings
  • pen

Draw a spider web on each of the paper plates.  On each plate, place a post-it note with a type of noun--person, place, or thing.

Cut small strips of post it notes and attach them to the spider rings.  On each strip, write a person, place, or thing.

Once the activity is all ready to go, invite your child over to help sort the spiders onto the correct web.

You can also extend this activity by talking about proper nouns and pronouns.

hands-on grammar game

If you are one that prefers printables, this is for you!  

There are three sorting mats, a recording sheet, and a page of blank colorful spiders so that you can choose the nouns you would like to use!  Enjoy! 

 Just click on the picture to download your printable. 

Printable Noun Sort Grammar Activity

Check out these awesome early elementary spider activities!

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