September 5, 2011

Busy Bag Swap: Day 5 (Playdough Mats)

I learn so much from my friend, Rachel.  She is seriously a wealth of information in so many areas and probably gets irritated that I usually have a long list of questions ready to ask, whenever I see her. I used to see her every morning at 6 a.m. when we were in the same crossfit class.  I'd try to space them out..and ask them in small doses. (Go poke around on her blog. I promise you won't be disappointed.  I love her tub cleaner recipe!)  She's a doula and instructed us on the Bradley Method that we used with Oliver (remember how I promised I was going to write his birth story? Oops!) Maybe I can distract you with something EVEN MORE exciting than his birth story...ready? After a medically-eventful week, Rachel pretty much delivered her OWN baby last week in a hotel room a couple hours away from home! Go read it here!

Family: Josiah (5.5), Annalise (3), Micah (10 days old)

Blog address:

How do you spend your free time? I love to read, garden, work out, and sew in my free time. I also get to teach childbirth, help at births, and teach/help with breastfeeding on the side of being a wife and mom.

When you were a child, what was one of your favorite ways to spend your day? I remember spending my summers playing in the pool with my brothers and sister all morning, then curling up in my bean bag chair with a good book for the afternoon.

What is your fondest memory with your mom as a child? I had to go to a lot of far away doctor appointments as a young tween and teen, and my mom and I would make it a special day together with lunch and a long time in the car together to talk. I loved those simple, long days full of one-on-one time with her, since in normal day-to-day life, she was really busy working full-time and with four kids.

What does special time with your children look like? My husband and I try to spend special one-on-one time with our kids each week, though it is often doing very simple things such as working on a project together, running errands, cooking, reading and playing games. I love that special time doesn't have to be hard or complicated.

What is your favorite outdoor activity to do with your child? We spend a lot of time outdoors (when it is not 100 degrees out!), playing at the park, hiking at a park, riding bikes, or working in the garden.

My favorite blogs are: My favorite homeschooling blog currently is since she blogs a lot about supplementing Classical Conversations at home, which is the homeschool community we are a part of.

What is a tradition that you would like to hand down to your children? There are so many! I love the book, Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noel Piper. It has really inspired me to be intentional with our special holiday traditions and more commonplace traditions. I hope to pass on traditions that clearly communicate God's love to my children and how much we love them. 


Playdough mats provide your child with creative ways to use playdough, along with many learning activities to help with counting, shapes and fine motor skills.

Each bag contains a booklet of 20 different laminated playdough mats, playdough, and instructions.

The most basic way your child can play with the mats, is to give them the mats and playdough and read them the instructions on the top of the page and let them get busy.

You can also give your child additional instructions by telling them the number of objects to put on the page. On the number/shape mats, they can practice making the shapes and counting them, along with filling in the number outlines to practice early number writing. 

For children who can recognize numbers, you can use a dry-erase marker to write a number on the top of the image pages and encourage them to create that number of objects on the mat.

Another variation is to provide different colors of playdough for your child and give instructions such as, “On this mat, please give the crocodile four blue teeth,” to practice colors and numbers.

There are so many playdough mats available online for download or purchase, you can add all kinds of activities to your set of mats by opening the rings. If you don't want to laminate them, simply place them in page protectors.
For 26 playdough mat bags, I used:
  • 26 little containers (I found these 4/$1 at HEB)
  • 8 batches of homemade playdough  (probably half a bag of all-purpose flour was used)
  • 2 containers of book rings ($5.75 each at Office Max)
  • 12 pages of black and white printouts for each book ($18 of copies at Office Max)
  • 8 pages of color printouts for each book ($13+$13 shipping at – we don't have a color printer)
  • 1.5 packages of laminating sheets ($20 each at Sam's)
  • 13 pages of printed instructions
This breaks down to about $3.50. In hindsight, I probably should not have made quite as many pages to the booklets as the printing and laminating sheets added up, but I had a hard time even narrowing it down to just these mats.

Here's how I did it:
  1. I found several playdough mats online that I liked and downloaded the pdf files.
  2. I designed the number/shape mats myself, along with several of the other pages using clip art.
  3. I had them printed or made copies of them.
  4. Then, I laminated the pages, back to back, and hole-punched each page, connecting them with rings.
  5. Lastly, I made the playdough and divided it into the containers.

The playdough mats that I used that were already designed online include:
Faces  (I only printed two of these, you can add more to your booklet if you would like)

The first time I let my kids play with these, they kept my five and half year old busy for 20 minutes and my three year old busy for over 40 minutes. Enjoy!

**Terms of Use:
We'd love for you to feel free to use the files that the ladies in our Busy Bag Swap have worked hard to create, but please keep in mind that the printable images and files on this site are some of our ladies own exclusive designs. They have been generous enough to freely share them.

The terms of use for using the free printable crafts and activities are as follows:  You may share these printables with students, friends, neighbors and family or even with your child's class full of children. As long as you share for personal use only. Please do not post printables on a web site - instead provide a link back to the original posting on this site. Linking to the original page is both welcome and appreciated.

                                       Go check out what Busy Bag is up today on Grow!


Rachel said...

Thanks for the sweet introduction, Kirby! You made me laugh.

Kirby said...

Uh-oh. Laugh, because it's true? You run and duck for cover whenever you see me coming?

This is FOR SURE on my kid's Top 5 Faves from the Swap. It kept them busy for close to an hour the other night while I made dinner. So, it's on my Top 5, too!

Emily Kate said...

Hi! Thanks for sharing this fun activity. I used it in a busy bag exchange I recently hosted with some friends. I shared your activity and our swap on my blog.

Crunchylitemama said...

This is an awesome activity. Paired with dice the kids can roll to tell them how many carrots (or eggs) to make, and what color, it's even more fun. My son loves it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing these great pages. My little 3 yr old is really starting to love busy bags. So excited to have more to pull out!

C Scarbrough said...

THANK you! It is so nice to come across such a useful, great idea. Thanks so much.

Rebecca & Jeff said...

My kids are going to LOVED these! Thank you so much!

Beth@seasonsofhome said...

I'm doing these for a busy bag swap. Thanks so much for sharing.

Alyson said...

Congrats!! Your Play-Doh mats and link are being featured at

These are so great for my son who has Down syndrome and needs to work on fine motor along with everything else. Multitasking really helps!!!!

Your blog has some great ideas!!!

Thanks again.

Jodi said...

These are wonderful! My only tip for people making them is that some of them print better in "landscape" than in "portrait", so it's probably best not to print the booklet out as one whole batch. Thank you for sharing!!

M. Bird-Lowry said...

Love these mats. I use something similar for directed drawing for my students with cognitive disabilities. The play-doh adds a sensory level that I hadn't thought of. Thank you.

Isabelle Vandewalle said...

Really fantastic, I will definitely use these Playdough Mats next year in class. I'm sure they'll love it!


Unknown said...

Really love it. I have been looking for exactly these kinds of mats for my preschooler!

Vanessa said...

You were a sanity saver today! The playdoh mats kept my son busy for minutes at a time...just long enough for coffee! :D

LN89 said...

Merci beaucoup ! demain s'il pleut ce sera pour nous !

Kirby said...

It's in the link under the Playdough mats booklet, Lindsey, but I'll also link to it here:

Sherrie said...

This will save my daytime life! Thanks so much!

Lori Blevins said...

Please help! I'm dying to DL these Mats but it keeps saying there's an error - Is it just MY computer???

Kirby said...

Yes, Lori, i think so. It seems to be working fine and goes directly to the pdf when I try. Sorry!! :(

Unknown said...

Hey Kirby,
I came across your last activity, it is Great! thank you,
Naomi from Israel

Unknown said...

Hey Kirby,
I came across your last activity, it is Great! thank you,
Naomi from Israel

momofsix said...

Looking forward to this homeschool year with lots of fun activities to keep my 2 and 3 year old busy while I teach their older siblings! Thanks for the play-doh booklet! What fun!

momofsix said...

Just made the booklets...printed in black and white, colored with crayons (my 9 yr. old craft queen), covered in contact paper! Perfect. Not professional, but definitely budget friendly! My three year old put it to the test...3 hrs of afternoon entertainment! ahhhhhh!

Growing Book by Book said...

What a great idea. Thank you so much.

Sassyfrazz said...

What a fantastic & creative idea! I know my kids will love this!! Thanks for creating and sharing!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU!! We seem to make the same things over & over with play dough. This is such a fun activity!

Unknown said...

thank you for this great idea to share with us
I cant use all of the mats because my daughter is dutch and we live in holland but the one without words or letters to trace I will use and I know that she is going to enjoy it.
If you have more mats to share mail me @ thank you

Anonymous said...

THis is so cute! I love it!

steph said...

Thank you so much for sharing all your hard work! I love it!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing these pages! I can't wait to use them! I know my daughter is going to love the cake one the best!

Anonymous said...

I just came across these on Pinterest and absolutely love this ideas! Im a preschool teacher and a mother of a 2 year old and cant wait to introduce them during playdough time! Thank you!

Flora Eman said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. Greetings from Myanmar.

Krista said...

Thanks so much for sharing! This is perfect... was looking for something for my 2 year old... and a great idea as a gift/busy bag swap (it's the first time i've heard of such a thing... we live in Poland!) I linked back to your page from my blog.

Annanda said...

Hi! I love this idea! I would like to translate the mats instructions in Italian and post it on my blog (giving credits to you and this clever swap, obviously!).
Do you think it would be possible?
Thanks again...from Italy!

Danica Zhaire said...

GEAT IDEAS...i really love it. my children will love these too..

Love and Lollipops said...

Thank you so much for sharing these pages. I'm definitely going to print some for my little guy. :)

Jennifer said...

Thanks for sharing! I just printed these off and laminated them for my little people in my Sunday school class. I know they will love these as our warm up activity. Blessings!

Stephanie said...

Awesome!!!! Thank you for letting us print these amazing pieces!! Can't wait to do this activity with my daughter!! Thanks again.

Xoxo Grandma said...

So glad I found this post. Thank you for these great play dough mats. They are so fun.