Crafting DIY Projects Kids

Exploring Tools and Textures with Play Dough

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I enjoy having a variety of creative hands-on activities tucked away for the long stretch of cold winter days. As a former ceramics instructor my heart always sings a bit when I hear “Mama, can we get the play dough out?”

Keeping a little box of play clay objects, a small heavy duty canvas, and the play dough in one location not only keeps the small parts together but also makes it easy to clean up when we are finished (and decorating the box will be a fun snowy day project in its own right).

I’ve been able to apply some of the techniques from teaching ceramics before I had children to the play dough we now use at home. We’ve acquired a large collection of everyday and natural objects to use as stamps, rollers, and textures in our play dough collection.

Here are some of the items we use in our play dough collection:


You can purchase a yard of unprimed heavy duty canvas from your local art supply store to serve as a work surface for your play dough. Art supply stores sell canvas by the yard and it tends to be more heavy duty and more economical than purchasing canvas at the fabric store. Your little play dough explorers will be very enthusiastic with their rolling and stamping; heavy canvas is a good investment and should cost between 4-10 dollars per yard.

Rolling Pin

An adult-sized rolling pin is often too large for little hands. I have found the small ones meant as play things break easily.

I made two little rolling pins from one piece of 1 ½ inch dowel rod from our local hardware store. My husband cut the pieces of dowel to a ten inch length. We then sanded the edges and finished the surface with olive oil so the dough won’t stick to the wood.


Making stamps to use with play clay is fun and easy.

We used the left over 1 ½ inch dowel rod from making our rolling pins as handles for knobs. Simply cut the dowel into 1 ½ inch lengths, drill a hole through the center and attach the knob.

Small found objects such as coins, buttons, costume jewelry can be glued to the ends of dowel rod with a heavy duty two-part epoxy. Use this glue outside when children are not present.

Everyday and Found Objects

Assorted textured fabrics such as burlap, lace doilies, and corduroy

Play cars with heavily textured wheels

Bits of window screen

Heavily corrugated cardboard

Costume jewelry, belt buckles

Antique or old keys

Just about anything can be a stamp. Have your child stomp on the play dough with the sole of their shoe; after this fun exercise they will be looking for texture everywhere!

Objects from Nature

  • Seashells
  • Sticks, leaves, and rocks
  • Nuts
  • Kitchen tools and objects
  • Cookie cutters
  • Blunt-tipped knives
  • Forks and assorted spoons
  • Potato masher
  • Butter or candy molds

Having a box full of beautiful objects certainly makes playing with our homemade clay fun. Perhaps equally exciting is being on the lookout together for interesting objects to add to our collection.

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