Process Art {Play Dough}

When I hear the phrase
"process art"
painting crosses my mind first
there is a process for all art mediums
Play Dough
I encouraged my daughters to explore the play dough process
by creating a sort of play dough "factory" for them

To begin we mixed up our favorite play dough recipe
(you can find it here at hands on : as we grow)
We tripled the recipe for this activity

Homemade play dough is amazingly smooth and very soft,
perfect for little hands
(find the play dough recipe that's perfect for you here at NurtureStore)
I set our tables up with tons of add-ins for the girls to create whatever they wanted

watercolors (in tubes)
flavor extracts
 (Dinosaurs & Octopuses suggests mixing extracts together to create amazing smells)
cocoa powder
cake mix

I also made it very clear they were allowed to get anything off of the art supplies shelf
(find more great ideas for add-ins here at The Imagination Tree)

I love this excerpt from Teach Preschool's post about 
When we talk about Process over Product, there are many reasons why this concept is emphasized. Part of the process is giving children choices in how they would like to create or design or draw and so on.
Here are my daughters making choices on how they would like to create
C enjoyed the mixing
new colors
new textures
new smells 
then she spent the rest of the time
cutting precise little squares of "brownies" to serve to Daddy

 A did a lot of
adding items
(candles, googly eyes, pipe cleaners)
and even
squishing her toes in the dough
after she had her fun
she decided to eat the candles

Set up a play dough "factory" and come back to tell me what your child created
Here are a few things to ask yourself while observing:

1. How does your child first make contact with the dough?
Do they grab a huge chunk, poke it, use a tool to move it around?

2. What kind of add-ins is your child most interested in?
Colors, scents, textures?

3. Does your child like to use tools to manipulate the dough or use their hands?

4. What kind of imaginative world does your child create for themselves?
A bakery, a zoo, a construction site, etc.

process art is for everyone
get your creative juices flowing and join in!

Looking for more structured play dough ideas?
Here are 34 ways to play with play dough from hands on : as we grow!

Lilypie Third Birthday tickersLilypie Fifth Birthday tickers


  1. Love the picture of your daughter standing on the play dough! My daughter does that a lot. She'll throw it on the floor and look up guiltily as she stomps in it ... but I always say, "Go ahead!" And she's so happy!

  2. Lovely pictures suggesting so many ways to play with playdough. I agree - homemade playdough has really leasing texture and the natural quality of it along with the aromas of herbs and oils can be so soothing.

    Thank you for all the additional links.

  3. This is an awesome post! The pictures are beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Ooo, I love the questions you have asked of us. It really get you thinking - at least it will me the next time we break out the play dough! Love those feet in the play dough! haha!

  5. my favorite pic is the one of little feet standing on the table in play dough. Love this post.

  6. I love the questions too! Play dough is one of our favorite process activities. Thanks so much for linking to me. And you know, R puts his feet in play dough on occasion, but I haven't. I seriously want to right now. Haha.

  7. The idea of process art is a great one- very explorative. Thanks for the questions at the end to help guide us!

  8. We have a Playdough Kit - I always include plastic cutlery, rolling pin and cookie cutters - then other bits and bobs to go with whatever 'theme' we are doing - when we had chocolate playdough I included silicone cupcake cases, birthday candles, cake sprinkles, confetti and paper doilies!

  9. This is awesome! We love to make different batches of play dough here every month, and we often use a large variety of herbs, spices, glitter, etc.. but I never thought to create an entire Play Dough station! We will definitely be doing this soon. I think we'll do it outdoors so the kids can incorporate sticks, stones, sand, etc. from their outdoor environment. Thanks!! :)

  10. This must have smelled heavenly. What a great idea!


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