Playdough Learning: Prewriting for Toddlers

Summer is the perfect time to find packages of colorful drinking straws on sale at your grocery store. I think they are a terrific crafting material.  Drinking straws are easy to cut, come in lots of colors, and are super cheap (you don’t feel badly throwing them away when you are done).

We’ve combined drinking straws with liquid glue to make sun catchers.  My kids have had fun sticking them in my hair for a crazy up-do, and Toddler Approved has used them to make cardboard sailboats, to name just a few ideas.

Playdough Learning

Drinking straws are also lots of fun with play dough.  Jabbing the straws into the play dough is a great sensory activity, and kids can make some pretty interesting creations this way.

To fuel your children’s creativity, suggest that they

  • use the straws as hair on a person’s head
  • make a little zoo cage with the straws as bars and form animal to go inside
  • shape a turkey or peacock and use bright, colored straws to form tail feathers.

Prewriting for Toddlers

When they’ve had their fill of free play, you can try adding a little educational twist with a pre-writing exercise.

First, flatten out a medium sized piece of play dough on a flat surface.

Use a sharp object to draw a letter, number, or shape on the flattened area.  Make sure that the letter is large enough to be easily recognizable when filled with straws.

Cut straws to about one inch in length.  If they are much longer  they will be too easy to knock over, and your child will have a difficult time getting his or her hand into the area.

Show your child how to insert the straws along the outline of the symbol until it is full.  Step back to admire their “writing” together!

If you push the straws deeply enough you will have a fun, lacy pattern after they are removed.

What a great way to use straws with play dough!   Once you’re finished having fun with the straws, check out these other great play dough ideas from the other Quirky Mommas:


  1. Great idea! We’re going to do this this week!

  2. i think this would bo fun with a 3 year old but their minds wander alot but i will try this:)

  3. Sounds like normal kids!!! Have fun with it.

  4. charmaine says:

    Great idea. I love it

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