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Fun and Simple Playdough Faces Activity to Teach Kids Emotions

Inside: Learn about a fun and engaging way to teach kids about emotions with making Playdough faces! Read more about the activity and be sure to get your free Playdough faces mats!

Making Playdough Faces is a great way to help teach your child about different emotions and the parts of the face! Playdough can be such a fun sensory experience with squishing the Playdough in their hands and forming the different face shapes! The activity allows you opportunities to talk about different emotions in a fun learning activity!

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Making Playdough Faces

In order to make the Playdough faces you will just need a couple different colors of Playdough and then you can use our FREE Playdough Face Mats for you to print out! This is a super simple invitation to play and learn all about different emotions!

For my 3 year old I was able to make a model for him to visually see what to do and then gave him the verbal directions on how to make the eyes, nose, and mouth. My one year old was even able to join in on the fun! She was able to squish, pull, and poke the Playdough! It was a great opportunity for us to talk about different emotions.

Emotions we talked about while playing with our Playdough Faces

  • happy
  • sad
  • afraid
  • scared
  • bored
  • angry
  • frustrated
  • surprised
  • mad
  • nervous
  • shy
  • silly
  • proud
  • loved

Why we love using Playdough to learn! 

Using Playdough to make faces is a great way to work on your child's hand strength, fine motor skills, and hand dexterity. Playing with and manipulating Playdough is a great way to help your child's hands get stronger and get ready for writing and cutting skills!

Playing with Playdough also is a great sensory experience for your child! They are able to feel the different textures and squish the Playdough throughout their hands. If you add any scents to the Playdough it adds in even more sensory experiences! You can talk to your child about how the Playdough feels in their hands or say things like, squish, smash, roll, pinch, squeeze while they are playing.

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What Research says about Learning Emotions 

Research has shown that by 18 months of age, children begin to recognize that emotions can be used to make inferences about another person’s preferences.

By the time they are 2 years old, children frequently talk about emotions. They are capable of labeling both positive and negative emotions such as “happy”, “sad”, and “angry”, and they use these labels to describe both how they are feeling, and how other people are feeling.

By 3 years of age, many children are successful in labeling the emotions that a puppet portrays in brief vignettes, although there is a decent amount of variability between individual children (Ogren, 2017).

This skill is especially impressive, as puppets do not provide the facial cues that human beings frequently use to identify emotions. Therefore, 3-year-old children appear to be basing their accurate emotional judgments on just the vocal tone of the puppeteer and situational cues. You can read more about the research here.

I think this research is so fascinating and shows that our kids can learn so much about emotions early on. Making Playdough Faces is an easy way you can work on teaching emotions to your child through your every day play experiences.

Get your FREE printable Playdough faces Here! 

When you enter your email address below to get your free Playdough faces printable you will get:

  • You will get 9 printable Playdough Face Mats with light skin tones, medium skin tones, and dark skin tones.
  • Each page has the face items you will need to include such as 2 eyes, 1 nose, and 1 mouth
  • The top says Today I feel…. (this allows you the option to talk about and make your own emotion faces)

free playdough face mats display image

What they are learning while making playdough faces

Your child is able to learn a lot of different skills while they are making fun Playdough faces! You can learn about the benefits of playing with playdough here.

They are able to:

  • learn about a variety of emotions and learning how to identify the emotions.
  • work on fine motor skills with manipulating the Playdough
  • increase their hand strength and hand dexterity
  • learn about colors and shapes while forming the different face shapes
  • learn about parts of the body

Ways to Expand the play!

There are a lot of ways you can add different loose parts to the Playdough face activity to expand the play experience!

You could add in:

  • googly eyes
  • pipe cleaners
  • yarn for hair
  • popsicle sticks
  • pony beads
  • Gems
  • cut up straws
  • plastic knives
  • plastic Playdough scissors
  • small rolling pin

Other ways you can play with the Playdough Face Mats!

The best pat about using these Playdough face mats to teach emotions is you can use them in a variety of ways!

  • You can print them out and laminate then model for your child how to roll or form the Playdough to make the faces and different emotions
  • You can put them into a clear plastic sleeve page protectors and then use dry erase markers to draw on the faces and then wipe them off!
  • You can write or draw different face emotions and have them copy the emotion you modeled for them
  • You could act out different emotions or scenarios and have the child make the face you care acting out or sharing different scenarios for them.
  • You could ask you child questions about emotions such as, “What makes you happy? What makes you sad? What makes you mad?”
  • You can have your child make long hair on the faces and then use plastic or child scissors and practice cutting the Playdough hair or you can use yarn hair as well.
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Ogren, M. (2017, May 21). Early Emotion Understanding: When do Babies Learn about Emotions? Psychology In Action.

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