Letters and Sounds…with Play Dough

Set up this quick activity to encourage children to explore letters and sounds with printing and word-making in play dough.

letters and sounds with play dough

Using a batch of play dough (find my tried and tested method HERE) surround it with letters to prompt children to explore them and practise reading skills.

I used magnetic letters and some rubber stamps as well as providing small objects to explore word-making.

At home:


S (2.4yrs) is just beginning to show interest in letters so this was purely an exploratory activity for her. She recognised ‘S’ and realised that it was “my name”. She used it to stamp into the dough, marvelling at the imprint it left and saying “sssssss”. Though younger children may not be aware of the names and meanings behind the letters, exposing them to the world of letters early on is still a great exercise in building curiosity surrounding reading and writing.



She took quite some time looking through all of the letters and finding the S’s and pressing them into the dough. She picked up the other letters and asked me what they were, repeating my answer and stamping them into the dough to see their shape. Encourage children to trace the letters with their fingers to provide extra sensory learning.


The Early Years Classroom:


For older children who are learning letters and sounds, this is a fantastic independent activity for reinforcing the phonics they have been learning. They could be encouraged to sift through the letters to locate the one they have learnt that day or the sounds that they know so far. You could extend the activity by providing objects with the same initial sounds to match against.


CVC words can also be explored through this fun activity. Children will enjoy pressing the letters into the dough to make words to read back and match with the small objects.


In this set-up I used a man, cow, pen, cup, dog, car and a teddy. However, children could find their own objects from around the setting to make the activity even more meaningful to them.


You could add pens and paper onto the table to encourage children to then have a go at mark making the sounds or words they have made.

EYFS Areas Developed (depending on the age of the child) :

  • Literacy:  knows that print carries meaning, links sounds to letters, begins to read words.
  • Physical: pressing and stamping letters into the dough, tracing letters with finger.

This activity is quick to set up with lots of fun ways to explore letters, sounds and words. If you give this activity a go, come on over to the wonderful Wings and Roots Facebook page and let everyone know how you found it; we love hearing from you!

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