I've been experimenting a bit with playdough playmats, and they have proven pretty popular at home and at Happymess. You can download playdough playmats from the internet to print and laminate, which would be good if you were just using these at home, but I like to make my own for using at Happymess. First off I made some monster playmats by cutting out coloured tissue and laminating the shapes on top of a sheet of A4 (printed with some suggestions for use). Second time round I designed some very simple face shapes on the computer and then printed and laminated them. I think they are great because they provide a focus for playdough play without being too prescriptive. My four year old picked the monster shape that she wanted (I made quite a few different shapes), and filled the whole shape in with dough - a bit like colouring in with playdough. She then added some eyes and decorated it with buttons. You could use this to practice counting, we didn't because I was slightly preoccupied trying to stop her little brother eating his playdough. She enjoyed picking the buttons off carefully to show the pattern of indents left in the dough.
I think the face templates worked better at Happymess than the monster mats, maybe because there were more three and four year old children there that day, or maybe because it's more obvious what to do with a face than a monster shaped blob! I used the face-shaped mats for Father's Day - to make funny Dad faces - but they could be any kind of face, so they will be back soon!
Jenny Clarke. I run Happymess (art, craft and messy play classes for young children). I have two small children who love to get messy and make things. I also like to see as much art as I can. This blog is about art, craft and messy play activities you can try out at home, art to see with your children, and the occasional Happymess event you can come along to!