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ABC Playdough Mats

Our ABC Playdough Mats are perfect for young children who are learning the alphabet. Creating letters with playdough allows children to feel the alphabet…literally. As they squeeze, roll, and bend the playdough to form uppercase and lowercase letters, children don’t even realize they’re gaining important pre-reading skills. They just know they’re having a blast–and combining learning with fun is always a recipe for success!

Our free download includes colorful mats for uppercase and lowercase letters along with tips for using them, so you can jump right in and get started.

ABC Playdough Mats download

Instructions for the ABC Playdough Mats

  1. Prepare your letter mats. Print the A-Z letter mats contained in this activity download. Cut each sheet in half and laminate.
  2. Prepare some playdough. If you don’t have playdough on hand, you can follow the simple recipe in our short instructional video, or refer to the recipe in the download file.
  1. Create the alphabet. Now the fun begins! Form “ropes” by rolling the playdough on the table with your hands. Show your child how to place the ropes on the laminated mats to create the letters.
Preschooler making A with playdough

Playing with Your ABC Playdough Mats

There’s no “one right way” to use the ABC Playdough Mats. Your child might prefer to create his own variations of the letters, and that’s perfectly fine.

Preschooler making letters with playdough

If your child’s first attempts aren’t perfect, that’s okay! The ultimate goal is to create an enjoyable atmosphere as your child masters the alphabet.

Preschooler making letter B with playdough

Older children can be encouraged to match uppercase and lowercase letters.

Preschooler making letters with playdough

There are lots of ways you can use this activity with your child to reinforce his knowledge of letters and how they are formed.

Have you found other ways to use playdough to teach your child letters? Please share in the comments below.

If your child enjoyed this hands-on letter recognition activity, why don’t you try some of our other Letter Recognition activities, too?

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Kristin

says:

I’ve done play dough letters, but I like the idea as a mat for a guide. Good idea!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kristin,
Yes, the mats are very helpful for giving little hands a bit of help in forming letters. You can also use the mats with string, or put little toys or candies to make letters, or whatever else your child wants to use.

Stacey

says:

How do you teach a all most 1 year and a 1 there letters?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Stacey,
Most 1 year olds are not developmentally ready to learn letters. Most 1 year olds are still learning language and how to use their bodies to walk, run, feed themselves, and so on. Children are typically between 3 and 5 years old when they are ready to learn letters.

For 1 year olds, we recommend exposing them to lots of language. Read to them daily. Sing to them. Teach them the actions to little songs like “Itsy Bitsy Spider”. Depending on their language skills, maybe start teaching them colors. Mostly, however, spend lots of time playing.

Heather

says:

My 5 & 4 yr olds love this activity. I am amazed at how long it can hold their attention & how quickly they start to remember the letter shapes.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Heather,
Thank you for letting us know what a hit this activity has been with your children, and how quickly they are learning their letter shapes with it.

Kelli

says:

These are super! Thank you!

Melissa

says:

A cheaper option we liked was to put the pages in a three ring binder along with a heavy sheet protector. We then slide that day’s letter in the sheet protector when it was time to use it. Much less time and money than laminating.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great idea, Melissa! Thank you for sharing it.

Temalesi

says:

Tremendous.
The dough activity really helps me a lot. I will implement that to my children.

Elizabeth

says:

This is a great idea, thanks for the free printable too. My little guy is struggling with letter recognition, I have been looking for more ways to approach letters.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Elizabeth,
Just in case you haven’t seen them all, we have lots of letter recognition activities and downloads.

Amber

says:

I’m sure my 4yo PreReader will love this!

Sigrid

says:

I think I have to try this! I am trying to teach my kindergartener his letters and sounds. He gets them, and then forgets them! And he mixes up lowercase letters. Maybe forming the letters with play dough will help them stick.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sigrid,
Yes, building letters in many different ways can help children to remember them better. However, we also recommend working with just 3 or 4 letters at a time. Start with 4 letters that are not easily confused and work with only them daily until your son has mastered them really well. Then add 3 more, but do not stop reviewing the first 4! Adding a little at a time and doing on-going long term review are import for those children that struggle with memory. This Memory Report will have further ideas as well.

Consider using our Pre-reading level. It has focused activities to make letter learning fun and effective. It also works on other Reading Readiness skills necessary for reading success.

Here are some other ideas for making letter learning fun:

ABC Snacks
Tips for using the ABC Snacks to work on Pre-reading skills
– make letter of the day or week placemats
– Go on a letter-treasure hunt: Put letters on index cards and tape them on things around the house that start with a letter and have him find the letters, or just hide letters for him to find.
– Give him a fun pointer stick. As you both sing the alphabet song, he should point to each letter as it is sung. Do this every day.
– Play games: Take index cards or squares of paper. Write a letter of the alphabet on each piece of paper. Set out four NON-CONFUSABLE letters at a time. For example, set out a, b, e, and f. (Do not set out c and e together, or b and d.) Take turns being the teacher. The teacher says “Point to the f (or whatever letter).” If the student points to the correct letter, he gets to keep it. Continue until the student has collected all four letters. Over a period of days or weeks, gradually add in more letters. First work with the uppercase letters; then move on to the lowercase letters.
8 ways to use refrigerator magnets
Free A to Z Letter Sounds App
ABC Bracelets
ABC Caterpillar
Tactile Letter Cards
Make a fabric alphabet
Swatting Phonograms–have him “swat” letters on index cards as you say them.
– An idea for very active kids is the snowball game. You can just tape the letter cards to the wall. Another idea is to use a Nerf gun instead of paper snowballs.
– If he is also working on handwriting, have him work on writing the letter he is learning. Use tactile methods to practice letters, or practice them in various ways like a gel pen on black paper, or crayon that he paints over (or have him color with all different colors, then color over it with black, and use a coin or other object to write a letter–it will scratch away the black and the letter will be rainbow-colored). Here are some more kinesthetic and tactile ideas.
– Lastly, in addition to making letters out of play dough, use cookie dough and then bake and eat them.

I hope this gives you some ideas!

Taiwo Ayomide

says:

A great psycho motor learning method of teaching. Makes it easier for me as a teacher to teach a child alphabet recognition, writing and creation.
Thanks guys.😊

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome! Have fun.

roslyn harris

says:

I like this idea. I already have the duplo letter cards and I bet my 3 yr old would like this too. She like loves playdough.

Sam thomas

says:

I have just stumbled across your site and i look forward to hearing your advice and hope that i can do a good job of homeschooling my three children of 4,8 and 11. Many thanks

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I hope we can help too, Sam! Let us know if you have any specific questions or concerns.

Darlene Lee

says:

Thanks for this awesome piece of pre-school fun!

Ashley Fisher

says:

Thank you for sharing this idea. This is not a new idea to me, but after going through all 4 levels of AAR with my oldest and levels 1-3 with my child after her and all of our other curriculum, this was a great reminder to do more hands on activities with my preschooler and toddler. So often I find myself getting caught up in what the older ones are doing that I forget about the activities like this that we did to encourage a love of learning at such a young age.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Ashley,
As a homeschool mom of 5, I completely understand! I found that having assigned “school” with the little ones helped me to make sure it was done more regularly. The “school” however, was just the fun sort of things like playdough, preschool board games, arts and crafts, and so on that I just naturally did with my older two kids.

Robyn McLeod

says:

My three year old would love this. A neat idea for her to “do school” with her older sibs!

Ashley

says:

Thank you so much for making this free download available. All three little ones in our home love playdoh, what a fabulous way to add learning to the mix!

Adriana

says:

Thank you for sharing. I use them in my classroom after I laminate them.

shaking my head....again in disbelief

says:

I think telling parents “There’s no “one right way” to use the ABC Playdough Mats. Your child might prefer to create his own variations of the letters, and that’s perfectly fine.” …. (((((REALLY!!!)You are one of the contributing factors to parents belief that …upside down and backwards is fine….directionality doesn’t matter…its just a fun!! Ive had more parents this year alone….why do they have to be able to know their letters…why cant they make their letters from the bottom up?It doesn’t matter if their backwards…youre too strict. WORST ADVICE EVER!!!!!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

I’m sorry for the misunderstanding. Saying that there’s no one correct way to use the mat is not the same as saying there’s no one correct way to make letters. In the first picture the child is making the letter on the mat and in the second picture the child is making the letter on his own. This in no way means that the child should make the letter “incorrectly” (such as backwards).

In fact, we even have a post on how to correct reversals if a child struggles with that, How to Solve Letter Reversals.

Kim

says:

I love the idea of using play-dough (something all kids always wanna play with) to help with our learning. I will be using this for more that just reading! thanks.

Jessica

says:

These are great! Thank you! :)

Julie Ann Wearne

says:

This looks like fun.

joanna

says:

I printed these small and made them into flash cards for my toddler who is facinated with letters. She loves them!!! Ill try bigger cards with play dough when she doesnt eat it. Thanks

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Joanna,
Just in case you want to be daring with your toddler, here is 15 recipes for an edible playdough.

Launa Rasmussen

says:

Awesome! Going to use these with our pre-reading adventure.

stacy

says:

Great way to add sensory to learning!

Coral

says:

I love All About Reading and how it introduces so many project based assessments and multi learning styles and techniques to reading. I can’t wait to use with my kids in the future.

Nikki Howell

says:

I am so going to do this with my 4 year old! He just started getting into play do and is stifling with learning letters. Bet he would love it. Thanks for the idea!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Nikki,
Have you seen our Creating the Alphabet with Building Blocks post too? The two, along with ABC Snacks, would be a fun way to work on a letter for most of a week!

Joanna Adams

says:

This is perfect for my little preschoolers next year!

Kristen

says:

I need to remember this for next year with my K’ers.

Jaime B

says:

These are great- thank you! My preschooler will love these. I have my older girls take turns doing “sister school” with her while I’m working on one-on-one lessons with the other one. They would love to do these with their baby sister :)

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jaime,
What a clever idea, “sister school”. Wish I had thought of that when mine were little.

Kelly

says:

My kids would love this!

jamie cabello

says:

This is AWESOME! My son would love this activity.

Misty

says:

This is great! It took my son forever to learn his abc’s.

Jessica Moody

says:

My DD would love this. Keeping focused on the letter formation may be a problem though.

Clair Wilkerson

says:

Trying this with my sensory kid.

Debbie King

says:

I love this idea. I shared it with a 5K teacher as a follow up for what I am working on in my pullout with her student. Instead of trying to get him to copy words which do not mean anything to him at this point, I suggested she use the play dough and then trace the letter.

Kristina

says:

Thank you for your amazing reading and spelling program, and fun and educational posts like this one!!!
I’ve used it successfully with my older son, and now using it all over again to teach my younger son.

Anne Perry

says:

These are great. I spend a lot of time cleaning clay off of our table.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Anne,
I kept plastic place mats on hand when my kids were in the playdough daily stages.

Carrie

says:

What a fun way to play and learn!

Carol D.

says:

My daughter loves play doh and can play with it for hours! Thank you for his free download.

Liz

says:

I think my preschooler would like this activity. I like that it also develops a child’s fine motor skills. Thanks for the play dough recipe!

Cathy

says:

What a great idea! We look forward to trying this soon.

Lena Ware

says:

Love the ideas here and can’t wait to try some with my tyo. For actual writing practice, using a chalk maker on a window has been fun.

Sarah Gentry

says:

My son would love this! How fun.

Lydia

says:

Love these!

Jeanne Moorcroft

says:

My children all have trouble with letter reversals. One of the things that helped to clear them up was to form the letters with play dough. This was a fun, hands-on way for the children to see in a new way the difference between lowercase b and d, for instance.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Great idea, Jeanne. This could be an activity to help with letter reversals and flipping. Thanks for the idea.

Heather

says:

Thank you for putting together this great resource that is simple & easy to use without having to create my own. I have 2 preschoolers who absolutely LOVE playdough. What a wonderful way to gain those pre-reading skills while doing something they already enjoy.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Heather. Have fun!

Kim

says:

These are great!

Jackie R

says:

Love these!

Michelle

says:

Love it!

Maya

says:

Great idea!! It combines education and fun together. I’m sure my boys will love it. Thanks

Tia Mayfield

says:

We have something like this for my older girls, but these would be much better for my youngest who will be starting COAH’s Letter of the Week program next year.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Tia,
Oh, my kids and I had so much fun with Confession of a Homeschooler’s Letter of the Week lessons way back when! Enjoy your time!

Megan

says:

Cute! My 4 yr old would love this!

Kristin

says:

How fun!!

Ashleigh Smith

says:

I have really enjoyed AAR so far! We have done Pre-reading through level 2. Has turned my reluctant reader into an avid reader. Look forward to implementing these ideas with my 3 y/o!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Ashleigh,
We love hearing success stories like these! Thank you for sharing it.

Lisa

says:

Love this idea! I want to try it with my 2 1/2 year old twins.

Traci

says:

Great idea!

Kim

says:

This is an awesome idea!

Kerry Hill

says:

What a great idea!!!

Shannon

says:

Wonderful idea! So simple, but fun!

Linsey

says:

Thanks for posting the ABC mats. I’m sure my little girls will enjoy them! :-)

Sandy

says:

What a fabulous idea! We used magnetic letters with my oldest, but I have a two year old that would love this play-do idea!

Christina

says:

I know this activity is geared at preschoolers, but I have three boys, ages 8, 9, and 10 who will benefit from these mats. Each boy is dyslexic and dysgraphic, some profoundly so, and I think this activity will be fun, without being “for babies”. I’m going to have my teenage daughter cut and laminate these, so the whole family can be involved in the fun. I LOVE AAR!

Thank you so much for your constant support. I feel so much hope for my boys when I am using your program, and hope feels GOOD.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Christina,
This activity would also be great for children that have problems with their fine motor strength and dexterity. I have an 11 year old that struggles with tasks that requires both strength and fine control at the same time, and this has reminded me that playing with clay has helped him in the past.

Rachel

says:

This is a fun, easy idea, thanks!

Nicole

says:

Getting ready to make some play dough right now! Thanks!

Knaus mom

says:

Your play dough letters and mats look excellent! Also,your programs are impressive because they follow the read, write, and say method of learning. All of the free suggestions and downloads on your site are much appreciated. I will be referring all of the mom/kids that I work with for reading and spelling to your website.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Thank you! The highest praise is recommending us to those you care about!

Jennifer

says:

Thank you for the great post and downloadable letters. My little guy loves play dough and this will be a great project for him!

Kelly Reynolds

says:

Thank you, this is great!

Jayni

says:

Our son has a great time shaping his alphabet dough.

Danielle Taylor

says:

These look like so much fun! they are a great idea for my 3 yr old!

Alea

says:

This is a neat idea thank you

Stephanie

says:

I love the AAR and AAS program, and so does my son. He struggled so much in kindergarten. We began the level 1 AAR program in grade 1. By the end of the year he will be half way through level 3. My daughter will be of age to begin learning letters/sounds next school year and there is no doubt that we will begin her on the AA Pre-Reading program when the time comes. Activities like this, along with other activities listed on this blog (i.e. ABC Cookbook) make this program easy to implement and fun for my children to learn.

Not only is the curriculum easy to implement, but the company is great too. I have contacted the company a couple times with general questions and they were always very helpful and prompt with their service. These products are worth every penny.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Stephanie,
Thank you! We are happy to hear that we have been able to have some part of what sounds like a fun and success homeschool! I’ll be sharing this with the entire AALP team!

Brigitte

says:

My daughter really enjoys using dry erase markers and tracing, but I’m thinking this play doh activity is going to be our new favorite!

Phyllis Brooks

says:

Great idea! Thanks

Faye

says:

I love it! Children LOVE to manipulate playdough so why sneak some meaningful learning in with their play :-)

Lissa

says:

My daughter is two and a half. She will be starting preschool (at our homeschool) in the fall. She already knows all her letter names and letter sounds inside and out. I know it’s too early to begin teaching reading (or maybe I’m wrong?), but I wondered what I could do with her at this point to challenge her, yet not “push her” so much.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Lissa,
I highly recommend our Pre-Reading program in this situation. While it does teach letter names and sounds, that is only 1 of the Big Five Skills that the program teaches. Of the 5 skills, phonological awareness is often the most overlooked in preschool curriculum, yet research shows that children who learn phonological awareness before kindergarten demonstrate the greatest success with learning to read.

Your child is young for our Pre-reading program, as it is designed for 4 and 5 year olds, but it sounds like she may be ready. Have a look at our Pre-reading Readiness Checklist.

Lissa

says:

Thanks! That is a big help!

Danielle

says:

Love this idea! Thank You!

Karen

says:

Great idea! I will have to try these

Lisa Dorsett

says:

These are awesome and so great for the little ones learning the alphabet!

Stacy W

says:

What a fun idea!

Katherine H

says:

This looks like fun!

Tami

says:

I use this program as a reading intervention teacher and I love it.

Heather

says:

I didn’t know you had these! I have a very tactile 3 year old who will love these while his 5 year old sister is doing AAR 1

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

We didn’t have these until this week, Heather. I wish we had them when I still had three year olds!

Hope

says:

What great ideas! Love your products!

Terra Marx

says:

This is a GREAT idea! I have a 4 year old that always wants to do school with his older siblings, but usually just distracts them. I think he would love this AND learn from it.

Shanna

says:

My preschooler loves playdough! This would be perfect.

Destiny

says:

That’s an awesome idea for my kiddo that loves playdough!

Seth

says:

great idea!

Charity Byrom

says:

That’s a great idea, thank you.

Sarah

says:

Great idea

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