Play Dough Pie Counting Activity
If you’ve got littles who are learning to count or who need practice counting, they’ll love this cute Play Dough Pie Counting Activity! It’s super easy, which is fantastic if you (like me) often get overwhelmed with so much to plan and do each day. And because most kids love play dough (whether the store-bought kind or the kind you make yourself), you can probably sneak in this math practice with smiles on your faces!
First, gather your materials (which is easy since there aren’t many, and you probably already have all of them anyway). You’ll need:
a mason jar lid (or any other lid you’d like to use)
a tool for cutting the play dough
- Roll out a can of yellow play dough.
- Cut the dough to fit a mason jar lid to form your pie shell.
- Use any leftover dough to cut strips. These will form your lattice crust.
- Encourage your child to roll some play dough into small balls (for the strawberries or blueberries or whatever else you want your pie to be made of).
- Select a number you want to work on counting to. (We decided on number 4.)
- Have your child count the selected number of play dough balls to put in the pie shell.
- Now have your child count the number of leftover crust strips.
- Have your child add the selected number of lattice strips to the top of the pie.
- Repeat with other numbers.
Ideas for Older Children:
If you have children who can already count well but who need practice adding and subtracting, it’s easy to turn this into an addition or subtraction activity.
For example, you can have your child count out 3 “blueberries” to put into the pie. Then have him count out 4 “strawberries” to put into the pie. Then have him count all of the berries to see that 3+4=7.
For subtraction, have your child count out (for example) 10 “blueberries” and add them to her pie. Then ask her to remove (subtract) 4 berries. Finally, have her count to see how many berries remain in the pie so she can see that 10-4=6.
If your child understands addition and subtraction, you could even show her the inverse relationship–that she can add the 6 berries in the pie to the 4 berries that she removed from the pie to see that she still has 10 berries altogether. (In other words, addition and subtraction are opposites.)
Other Ways to Teach with Play Dough
Fun on the Farm with Apple Tree Math
Download our 4-page apple tree math printable to use for addition, subtraction, or even language arts practice! You’ll find suggestions for ways to use the printable in the Fun on the Farm with Apple Tree Math article. This printable includes a page that can be used as-is to practice addition, a page that can be used with erasable markers or play dough to create your own addition or subtraction problems, and two additional pages along with suggestions for how to use them with both younger and older students.
Use different colors of play dough to practice identifying or creating patterns! For example, create balls of play dough of different colors. (Let’s say you made one ball of red, one of yellow, and one of green.) Then repeat that pattern (red, yellow, green, red, yellow, green) and see if your child knows that red should come next. If so, see if he or she can tell you that yellow should come next and then green. If that’s too easy, make a more difficult pattern (such as red, red, blue, green, yellow) or an even more difficult one (blue, yellow, yellow, green, red, red). And give your child a chance (if you think he/she is ready) to create his/her own patterns too!
DIY Herbal Play Dough to Teach Phonics
To find out how you can use play dough to teach phonics, read DIY Herbal Play Dough to Teach Phonics! You’ll find ideas for teaching letters, words, letter sounds, and more! You’ll also learn about some herbs and how to use them with your children in various ways.
Make Play Dough Fossils
If you want to throw in some science while you have the play dough out, how about creating some play dough fossils? You can use plastic bug toys like these, or you may have some around the house that you can use. You could also use sea shells, dinosaur models, or even rocks or plants from your yard. Just have your child flatten a big ball of play dough and then press your toys, rocks, or plants into it to make fossils.
Have a Lesson on Colors
Here is another lesson you can modify to work with play dough. Try using your play dough to talk about primary and secondary colors and to work on mixing colors. This Easy Art Class – The Color Wheel will give you some guidance. If you want to, try using paint (which is what the lesson calls for) and then comparing the results you get when you use play dough instead.
Got Older Kids? Learn the Parts of a Cell!
Want more information and math practice for older children?
Take a look at this information on the Wonderopolis site about inverse relationships. You’ll find videos, vocabulary words, “Test Your Knowledge” quizzes, and more!
No matter how you choose to use your Play Dough Pie Counting Activity, we hope you have a great time with your kiddos playing and learning together!