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55 Everyday Items to Level-Up Your Play Dough

Use Common Household Items with Play Dough for an Inexpensive and Engaging Twist - Playing with Play Dough

The Joy of Everyday Items

Parenthood is filled with ironies. It’s the part of it that we tell our friends about in play group while the little ones roam and share with the grandparents on weekly calls.

It’s the part of parenthood that’s equally agitating and amusing. The part that’s both exasperating and comical. The part that everyone warned us about but we still fell into the trap all the same.

Case in point: My oldest daughter begged and pleaded for one of those 6-volt battery ride-on cars every single day for months leading up to the holidays. No matter what other toys I tried to convince her would be better options, the car was firmly at the top of her wishlist with no other “wants” in her sight.

I found the car on sale for Black Friday and decided to give it a go as a combo birthday-Christmas present. When the big day arrived, she was ecstatic, and drove that little car for a least 30 minutes.

The next day, the car was used for about 20 minutes. Then, on the third day, she and her sister discovered the giant box that it came in and never made it to the car after that.

The car has been used exactly zero minutes in the last year. The box has become a household staple. It’s since been a rocket ship, bakery, store, house, and – of course- a car.

A lesson was learned. By me. Sometimes the most engaging play happens when the least amount of money has been spent.

Use Common Household Items with Play Dough for an Inexpensive and Engaging Twist

More often than not, this also proves true with play dough.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of buying play dough kits and Play-Doh sets! I love new dough and new toys as much as any of my kiddos.

I’ve also been around long enough to know that eventually the newness wears off. I’ll inevitably be stuck with another discarded piece of plastic, rarely used.

Is there a way to win? Yes. It’s all about balancing the eye-catching store-bought toys and tools with what you already have at home.

For a quick, engaging, child-centered play dough activity, lay out your favorite combinations of dough, toys, and common household items!

55 Everyday Items to Level-Up Your Play Dough - Playing with Play Dough

Fun + Free Items to Level-Up Your Play Dough

To get you started, I compiled a list of common doodads and thingamabobs that you likely already have around your house.

(I’ve also added links to some of my favorite products in case you’re looking to build your collection! :))

Kitchen Items for Play Dough

  1. Plastic/Child-sized forks, spoons, knives
  2. Garlic press
  3. Potato masher
  4. Plastic bottle caps
  5. Fruit pouch caps
  6. Rolling pin
  7. Spatula
  8. Ice cream scoop
  9. Small cookie dough scoop
  10. Cookie cutters
  11. Sandwich cutters
  12. Silicone cupcake liners
  13. Muffin tins
  14. Mini muffin tins
  15. Small frying pan
  16. Small saucepan
  17. Butter knife
  18. Chopsticks
  19. Skewers
  20. Toothpicks
  21. Spaghetti noodles
  22. Shaped pasta
  23. Egg cartons
  24. Tongs
  25. Paper or plastic straws
  26. Birthday candles

Craft Supplies for Play Dough

  1. Craft sticks
  2. Pom poms
  3. Pipe cleaners/Chenille stems
  4. Yarn/String
  5. Toddler-safe scissors
  6. Buttons
  7. Beads
  8. Stamps
  9. Stencils

Toys for Play Dough

  1. Blocks
  2. Math counters
  3. Plastic people and animals (Little People, Safari TOOB)
  4. Army men
  5. LEGO and DUPLO bricks
  6. Bubble wands
  7. Extra game pieces (Lite Brite pegs, Monopoly tokens, etc.)
  8. Marbles

Nature Objects for Play Dough

  1. Feathers
  2. Leaves
  3. Twigs
  4. Acorns
  5. Pebbles
  6. Seashells
  7. Pinecones

Odds and Ends for Play Dough

  1. Combs
  2. Floss
  3. Shoelaces
  4. Toilet paper tubes
  5. Nuts + bolts

Some pieces are better suited for younger ones than others. Be careful introducing sharp or small objects too early, and keep a watchful eye the first few rounds to help guide play when necessary.

If you’d like to read more about how I set up play dough time for my crew, check out my article on teaching the skills of playing with play dough!

Final Thoughts on Common Additions to Your Play Dough Play

Common household items combined with play dough can be an inexpensive and engaging twist on the child-centered activity. There are endless combinations of doughs, toys, and random items from around the house that can lengthen any play dough session and strengthen your kiddo’s creative skills!

What are your favorite “common” items that you like to use for playtime? I am always on the lookout for new items and creative ways to use old ones!!

55 Everyday Items to Level-Up Your Play Dough - Playing with Play Dough

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