Simple Playdough Shapes Building Challenge for Preschoolers!

Knowledge of shapes is one of the earliest educational processes that young kids are exposed to.  Preschoolers use visual information about shapes to discriminate between objects and to learn about the world around them.  This week the Early Childhood Education Team is offering playful learning suggestions for helping young kids learn about SHAPES.  The playdough shapes building challenge below will not only help preschoolers observe and compare various shapes, but it will challenge them to integrate basic shape knowledge into a hands-on activity that encourages critical thinking skills.

Playdough ShapesPlaydough SHAPES Building Challenge for Preschoolers!

Playdough Shape Building Challenge Objectives: To encourage kids to use critical thinking skills and individual creativity to construct basic shapes with playdough.  Skills presented in the building challenge:

  • Estimation
  • Same/Different
  • Fine Motor
  • Visual Measurement
  • Number concepts for creation of the shapes
  • Relationships between the shapes
  • Planning and design that exhibits early attempts at engineering
  • Sensory (Tactile and Visual)
  • Connections with familiar and new shape knowledge
  • Creative Expression
  • Inquiry and Problem solving

BUILDING INQUIRY: What basic shapes can the children create using ONLY playdough?

The shapes building challenge can be modified for kids of various ages through the addition of more complex shapes, polygons, cylinders/cones/spheres, or creating towers from basic shapes. Rolling, squeezing, squishing, and molding playdough into various shapes is a FUN way to offer opportunities for the development of fine motor skills and knowledge of shapes through inquiry and solution-based learning!

Introduction for students:   Review basic shapes the children have had introduced or are learning:  circles, triangles, squares, rectangles are good shapes to begin with.  Challenge the children to use playdough only to create any shape(s) they know.  The children will ask questions about how to make the shapes.  Try to guide the children with open-ended questions that will allow them to think about the shape they wish to create and make a plan for the design with only the playdough.

Playdough Shape Building Challenge for Preschoolers

It is exciting to observe kids engaged in planning, building, making visual “measurements”, and formulating ideas about various shape designs!

Playdough Shapes Building Challenge - Octogon and Triangle

In the photo above,  kids chose to create an 8-sided octagon and a 3-sided triangle from rolled pieces of playdough.

Playdough Shapes Building Challenge Circle Strategies


To create circles, the kids tried various designs. Some of the children rolled a long playdough worm and then attached the ends.  Other children chose to roll small balls and flatten with their hands.  One group “pieced together” a large circle comprised of other small playdough balls.

It’s amazing the observe young children thinking and creating.  This challenge was FUN for the kids, but they gained some important problem solving skills that they will carry with them as they grow and learn about shapes!

For even MORE ways to play with SHAPES in Early Childhood, please visit the activity suggestions from the #TeachECE team below:

Shiny Showy Shapes Alliteration Fun by Growing Book by Book

Roll and Cover The Shapes Alphabet Activity by Mom Inspired Life

Shapes Preschool Theme Sand Writing Tray by Learning 2 Walk

Mixing Shapes with Our Bodies – Group Activity by Capri + 3

Shape Sensory Squish Bag by Still Playing School

Shape I Spy for Preschoolers: Free Printable by Life Over C’s

Exploring Shapes with Yarn by Tiny Tots Adventures

Playdough Shapes Building Challenge for Preschoolers by The Preschool Toolbox Blog

DIY Shapes Puzzle by Munchkins and Moms

Preschool Shape Hunt Activities by Fun-A-Day



About pschooltoolbox

Educator, Wife, Mom of 6, ECE Curriculum & Design, Professional ECE Blogger & Brands. I write about playful learning activities primarily via The Preschool Toolbox Blog - STEAM, STEM, and Digitial Content Curator for Omnicor, Inc.
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14 Responses to Simple Playdough Shapes Building Challenge for Preschoolers!

  1. This is a fantastic to challenge kids to think!

  2. Pingback: Shiny Showy Shapes Alliteration Activity

  3. Kim says:

    What a fun way to explore shapes! We love using play dough!

  4. Theresa says:

    I love all of the creative ways your students made shapes. Your suggestion to respond to questions with open ended questions instead of telling them how to make the shapes is wonderful!

  5. Devany says:

    My son is obsessed with play dough! He’ll love this idea!

  6. Danielle says:

    Great challenge! I love that you encouraged your students to think critically about how to make the shape. It’s neat to see the various ways they made the circle!

  7. Pingback: Exploring Shapes with Yarn | Tiny Tots Adventures

  8. Pingback: Simple Preschool Shape Activities - Fun-A-Day!

  9. Pingback: Shape Preschool Theme Sand Tray Writing

  10. Alecia says:

    So fun! I’m going to add this to our lessons next week. My kids love play dough work!

  11. Clarissa says:

    Play dough is such an amazing and versatile learning tool!

  12. Natasha says:

    Great challenge. I like how it invites them to get creative and solving a problem.

  13. Pingback: Building Games For Preschoolers | Pagamely Games

  14. Pingback: Making Shapes With Our Bodies-Group Activity

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