DIY | Play Dough Stamps

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Here’s a simple way to make custom play dough stamps based on an activity in our book Let’s Play.

Supplies

To get started, you’ll need:

  • A hot glue gun.
  • Hot glue. (Regular glue works fine, but we like the look of colored hot glue.)
  • Stuff to glue to–any firm material hot glue sticks to works. As you’ll see in the photos, we like recycled container lids as well as Domino Blocks and Mini Hardboard Blocks from our Webshop.
  • You’ll probably also want some paper and a marker.

Process

The process is simple:

  • Make sure the material you’re gluing to is clean and dry so that the glue sticks.
  • Then, just glue away. Make whatever designs, shapes, letters, numbers, or words you like.
  • To avoid mistakes with hot glue, it may help to trace your design in marker first.
  • It’s also important to remember that whatever you create with glue will appear as a mirror image when it’s stamped into play dough. That means you have to hot glue all words, letters, and numbers backwards so they appear correct when stamped. This is where the pen and paper come in–they are a big help when visualizing how to correctly mirror things.

Notes

  • To create stamps that’ll make deeper imprints in play dough simply glue slower. You’ll lay down a thicker bead of glue that’ll leave a beefier imprint.
  • Preschool aged kids can hot glue with proper supervision. They understand what HOT is and don’t want to get burnt, so with some basic instruction and support they can make their own stamps. Because kids this age haven’t mastered their fine motor skills, they’ll probably be more successful gluing to bigger items like boards and pickle jar lids than tiny milk jug lids.
  • Clean your stamps with a damp cloth as needed.
  • These stamps are pretty darn durable–over an 8 year period we traveled nearly 250,000 miles with a set that we used in presentations. They were used a lot and banged around even more during travel. That said, check your stamps regularly for damage and repair as necessary.

Learning

Among other things, play dough stamping builds muscle strength and control, hones visual skills, and helps develop an understanding of positive and negative space–all things that help young children become readers and writers when they’re ready. There’s no need to focus on trying to teach those things though–they just happen as the children play.

Conclusion

If you give it a try, we’d love to see you finished stamps! You can post pictures in the comments below. Want more ideas like this? Join our mailing list and subscribe to the PLAY Fully Newsletter.

This post made possible with support from:

Producers

Dawn Stonehocker

Shirley Rempel

Assistant Producer

Stefani Ilkic, Cindy Bays, Serena Smith, and Sally Swiatek

Supporters

Laura Spillman, Nancy McNeal, Cherie Davis, David, Carly Storer, Stacia Ceryes, Kelly Ann, Bethany Corrie, MHerzbrun, Natalee Garay-Espinal, Monica Morrell, Stephanie Hayes, and Kals

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Jeff is an early learning speaker, toymaker, podcaster, content creator, author, and founder of Playvolution HQ who is really bad at getting his picture taken.

After nearly 30 years working in early learning programs, Tasha now devotes her time to making Explorations Early Learning and Playvolution HQ work, quilting, and taking care of her pet duck, Tape.

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