Play-dough Art Mat – Preschool Art Explorations

Here is something simple to offer your child if they love working with play-dough, and you have the inspiration to introduce them to the world of fine arts. This idea came from my obsession to make every single activity meaningful and educational. I wonder sometimes if it’s a weakness or a strength. Anyway, we all know how appealing play-dough is to young children.

Sometimes they can spend hours molding it in their hands. Some children are an exception to this rule, for example, Miss A. She is quite indifferent when it comes to play-dough.  However, I still set it up for her every week to help prepare hands and fingers for writing.

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DIY play-dough mat is a great way to enrich play with creativity and bring more purpose into the simple play-dough activity. I used laminated coloring pages of famous paintings. Looking at famous artwork allows introducing children to various colors and tones. It facilitates children’s learning to do simple analyses of paintings. Children learn to identify the highlights and main characteristics. As an extension, they can be invited to add their own colors and elements to the picture. It’s a simple, but engaging way to get them to appreciate the work of fine art.

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Animals and their homes montessori nature sort matching free printables sign up

Art and creativity are subjects I would like to include in our homeschool curriculum from the preschool age. In this activity, we used materials from the Art Appreciation Tool Box we received from Montessori by Mom – matching cards. Miss A chose her favorite painting. Then we picked a matching color for play-dough and found printables of painting outlines to print out and laminate. There are a couple of sites where you can download pictures for coloring. My favorite one is Super Coloring.

At this age, children gain the most benefit from process art that is self-driven. I have noticed that even a slight attempt to take control failed miserably. Fair enough. Most importantly the child receives an opportunity to engage deeply in their work without interruption.  It is so essential to allow children to keep that individuality in everything, really, and build their skills on this foundation.

It took me 4 years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.
-Pablo Picasso

Before working with play- dough we:

  • read about the artist
  • had a short discussion of the painting and title
  • looked at what were the most obvious elements of the artwork
  • pointed out some smaller details

Then the process began. I could tell that my daughter thoroughly enjoyed it. I printed some other pictures with artwork from different styles for the next time.

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It was a simple and fun way to engage a preschooler to explore the world of art. Next time we will attempt to paint from observation and try to replicate a similar style with paints – preschooler style.

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About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.