Play Dough Letter Impressions

We used play dough and wooden letters to make some letter impressions!
Playful literacy learning with play dough, wooden letters and beads
A great way to incorporate some playful literacy through letter recognition, sensory alphabet learning and most importantly, FUN!
I found some gorgeous lower case wooden letters in a craft shop for only £1.99 and have so many fun things planned for them! The first idea we explored was using them to push into play dough to create relief impressions and they worked really well.  I made another batch of our super-simple, 4 minute, no-cook play dough (if you have never tried this, please do! you will never cook it again!) We added purple colouring and strawberry scent, to make a feast for the senses.
Cakie rolled out her dough and immediately located the C for her name and had fun pushing it into the dough, then peeling it away carefully to see her “special letter” revealed! She repeated this over and again until she filled up all available space.
Then she traced her finger around the impressed letter shapes, from top to bottom, saying the letter as she did so. This is a multi-sensory, kinaesthetic approach to teaching and learning and suits young children really well. So much better than sitting them down with lots of letter Cs to copy or trace, and a much more age-appropriate way of learning at this stage.
She had the idea to fill up the letter shapes with the Hama beads we were playing with the other day (in our play dough sweet shop and chocolate box!) I LOVE the effect she created with the bright colours following around the shapes and picking them out so clearly.
After that she was keen to push her whole name into the dough, so she rolled it smooth and started again, this time finding all the letters that she needed and spelling it out independently (with some help to get a couple of letters the right way around.)

I had fun too while she played, spelling out Mummy and Daddy (much requested words and words that she can read by sight.) Lots of fun and I’m 30 years older than her!

There is plenty of potential in this activity and is certainly one that we will be coming back to often.

For older children (4-6 years) they could use the dough to spell out simple 3 letter CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words, or words that are tricky that they need to learn by sight (such as “the”.)

For younger children, explore the shapes that different objects make when pushed into the dough, such as keys, feathers, twigs, shells, combs etc.

For now, learning how to write her name with confidence and starting to sound and recognise letters by name and sound are the stage we are at. I look forward to more Playful Literacy activities soon!

Learning Links:

  • literacy: begin to recognise letters by name and sound, know and name the initial letter of their own name, begin to be able to write/ spell out own name, recognise familiar words by sight
  • physical development: fine motor skill practise through pinching/rolling/squeezing/pushing/flattening play dough, small hand control through finger tracing in letter impressions

Cakie: 3 years, 5 months


  1. Karen Field says

    Hi Anna, where do you get your strawberry scent from – or indeed any of your other more unusual scents?

  2. says

    I love this! I have a set of tagboard letters that I got on clearance out of a scrapbooking store. I think they’ll work great! Thanks for sharing this!