Halloween Play Dough Tray

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Halloween play dough tray. Great open ended fine motor activity for preschool or elementary.

I realized recently that it had been a LONG time since my girls had gotten to have some play dough fun.  So I put together a fun Halloween play dough tray for them to explore one morning this week.  I was able to reuse many items from both or Halloween Sensory Bin and our St. Patrick's Day Play Dough Tray, so set-up was fairly simple.  An open-ended tray like this can provide your children with hours of fun.  Lena (age 5) and Maggie (age 3) easily spent an hour with this tray, letting their imaginations run wild and working their little fine motor muscles.

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You can certainly use store-bought play dough.  However, I chose to make our own  using our favorite recipe.  Mix together 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup salt, 2 tablespoons cream of tartar, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, and a few drops of glycerin (optional).  Add 1.5 cups boiling water and stir until it is cool enough to handle.  Then knead the dough well until it becomes smooth.  For this particular tray, I made 2 batches of this recipe and then divided each batch, making 4 colors all together.  The purple and green colors were made from McCormick Neon Food Color.  For orange, you can mix red and yellow from a standard package of food coloring.  I bought a separate bottle of black food coloring , but you could also buy this Halloween pack from McCormick and have your orange and black covered.  Add the coloring to the dough and knead thoroughly.  If food coloring is not available, you can also use liquid watercolors or tempera paint.

Halloween play dough activity tray for preschool kids

To set up a great play dough tray, you need play dough (duh!) and any other other fun Halloween goodies that you may have.  I like to wander through the Target dollar section, the Dollar Tree, and craft stores to see what I can find.  This particular tray has plastic spider rings, mini erasers, Halloween buttons, mini pumpkins and cauldrons, and Halloween cookie cutters.  The tray itself is from the Dollar Tree.  Almost all of these items are things that we already have used for other activities, or plan to use in the future.

Halloween play dough activity tray for preschool kids

For the whole set-up, I spread out a sheet on the floor and provided wipe-clean placemats for the girls to work on.  I've found that children will stick with an activity longer if they can work on the floor instead of at a table-- it allows them to move around more freely and get their wiggles out.  The orange mold is from a Jell-O package we had several years ago.

Halloween play dough activity tray for preschool kids

While most of the items on this tray are "use what you have" I would say that the cookie cutters were definitely my girls' favorite part and would encourage you to include them if possible. 

Halloween play dough activity tray for preschool kids

They get lots of great practice rolling and mashing the dough, and once you make some shapes you can decorate them with some of your other goodies.  

It is always such a treat to see how your children's play will unfold with such an open ended activity.

Halloween play dough activity tray for preschool kids

Frankenstein made an appearance.

Halloween play dough activity tray for preschool kids

As did this spider ball.

Halloween play dough activity tray for preschool kids

This is a ghost patch, which, as best as I can tell, is sort of like a pumpkin patch.

Halloween play dough activity tray for preschool kids

Maggie decided to sort the erasers.  After a while, she said, "This is taking too long.  I wish I were an octopus so I'd have more arms!"

Halloween play dough activity tray for preschool kids

The girls wrapped up their play dough session with some bakery pretend play.  Maggie ran the shop while Lena was in charge of cranking out the cookies.  And boy, did she deliver!

Halloween play dough activity tray for preschool kids

Encourage everyone to help clean up, and store it away for another day!

To see nearly 200 more great Halloween ideas for young children, follow the Cutting Tiny Bites Pinterest board below.


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Halloween play dough tray. Great open ended fine motor activity for preschool or elementary.

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Cutting Tiny Bites: Halloween Play Dough Tray
Halloween Play Dough Tray
Halloween play dough tray. Great open ended fine motor activity for preschool or elementary.
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