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Making Playdough Lesson

Brief Description: Using various materials and resources to make playdough, Pre-K students ages 4-5 will explore the properties of objects through measurement tools with standard units. This lesson plan walks through steps to guide the teacher and assessment reflection, differentiation, guided and independent practice, and evaluation.

Grades: Pre-k

Subject(s): Measurement

Objectives/Goals: Students will explore the properties of objects through measurement tools with standard units.

Materials Needed: Various sizes of bowls for mixing, cups, spoons, spatula, flour, salt, oil, and water. Recipe chart with visuals and visual cards.

1. Learner Outcome(s)/Objective(s):

What will students learn from this lesson?

  • Students will explore the properties of objects through measurement tools with standard units.

How will you measure mastery of the outcome?

  • Children will be able to follow a written recipe with visuals to measure ingredients needed to make playdough.


  • Standard: Cognition 5: Measurement
  • Standard: Cognition 4: Number Sense of Math Operations

2.  Pre-assessment Reflection:

  • Considering that the students in the class range from different developmental levels, learning capabilities, and linguistic backgrounds, you can modify this lesson to meet the learning needs of each student. Consider multiple intelligences and strategies listed on children’s IEP and invite families to be part of this activity in our culturally responsive classroom. Ensure that the ingredients used in playdough do not interfere with students’ health needs.

3. Differentiation, Adaptation, and Accommodation Strategies:

  • Through visuals, gestures, and visual aid picture cards on a ring, you will be able to help all students access learning. This is helpful for dual language learners, as well as for students with special needs. The visual aid picture cards will provide a simple picture of what is expected to help students stay on task or know what to expect. Families are invited to join in the lesson for engagement, extra support, and extend learning at home.

4. Resources:

  • Bowls for mixing, cups, spoons, spatula, flour, salt, oil, and water.
  • Materials are of varying sizes, with and without handles for needed adaptations. These materials are provided so that children can work with others, but there is a sufficient amount for children who choose to work independently. Recipe chart with visuals created with the help of children’s drawings along with specific illustrations. Visual picture cards with simple pictures of what is expected of the child to communicate more effectively.

5. Learning Activities, Explicit Teacher Instruction:

Introduce the lesson:

  • During large group, before moving to the tables for small group - Inform children we will be making playdough later today, and we need to brainstorm the materials we will need.  Use a bubble map to draw illustrations based on children’s responses. Plan who will carry out each responsibility, such as wipe the table, place the cooking materials, bowls, and spoons on the table, as well as who will wipe the tables, and prepare playdough toys for use. Everyone should have a role. Introduce the recipe chart with visuals and place it next to the table to reference.


  • “We will use these ingredients to make playdough. The recipe chart tells us what steps to take and how much of each ingredient to use. We have to make sure we measure the ingredients just right so our playdough turns out just right.”


  • Use self-talk to map out my actions as I read the recipe chart, measure the ingredient, and follow the first step on the recipe.


  • Ask an older student to demonstrate the next step on the recipe as I use parallel-talk to map out the student’s actions. Make up a song to map out actions as well.

Check for Understanding:

  • Ask open-ended questions that start with how and why to promote critical thinking and explain what they know as they create the playdough.

6.  Learning Activities, Guided Practice/ Collaborative Practice:

  • Once students are engaged in following the recipe chart and making playdough, walk around to observe and ask open-ended questions that start with how and why to promote critical thinking. Pretend to need help in following the recipe to make the playdough, allowing students to correct you and provide guidance. Their ability to teach you, and their peers, provide them the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge. These are all steps to check for understanding to ensure students are meeting the lesson objective. When feedback is given, be specific to their actions. Use self- and parallel-talk to map out steps as needed to re-teach, provide information, and call attention to students who are being successful.

7.  Independent Practice:

  • To provide practice that supports the learning outcome, add additional ingredients, materials, and the recipe chart to the dramatic play area and have a family volunteer join in their play to assist if needed. The focus is to have students be able to practice independently. Once we have first gone through the I do – We do steps, students will be able to move to the You do stage.

8. Assessment and Evaluation:

  • Through observation, you will see how students are following the steps to measure the ingredients. Make notes if students can complete tasks with help, little help, or independently. Take pictures for children’s portfolios and as evidence for assessment.
  • Students will be able to respond to questions by demonstrating knowledge verbally in English or their home language, by pointing, showing a measurement tool, or carrying out a step.

9. Closure:

  • Using a sequencing chart, document children’s responses through written words and illustrations regarding the steps they took to make playdough. Confirm and assess knowledge of measurement and quantities. Have the materials available so students can point to them and use the recipe chart to demonstrate understanding. Children will have the opportunity to tell or demonstrate their responses. We will make connections to life experiences by talking about family members using recipes for cooking.

Written by Karen Salinas Ascencio, Long Beach Unified School District Head Start, Long Beach, CA
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