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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Chicken Playdough Tray Invitation to Play

One of my favourite activities to do with younger kids is a playdough tray invitation to play. They're one of the first activities I set up with my girls from a young age and they're so much fun to do together. I love that they combine loose parts with sensory play, so they get heaps of sensory input with lots of opportunities to work on their fine motor skills. I love setting up themed playdough trays and seeing what the girls come up with. The fun part is they could play with the same items over and over, and each time they'll come up with different results.

This invitation to build a playdough chicken is great as an Easter craft activity, but also great for any time of the year. We made these after my daughter's kindy kept live chickens for a few weeks so the kids could learn how chickens hatched and watch them grow. There was lots of pleading for us to get our own chickens during those weeks, but we can't have real ones at our place, so we made some playdough ones instead. 

This would also be a great classroom activity for preps or kindy students to do while learning about farm animals, studying the chicken life cycle or in the lead up to Easter {even though the Easter bunny gets all the credit for the eggs at Easter}.

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<< Please note this activity is intended to be done under strict adult supervision >>


- A monkey pod tray or dip tray
- Yellow or orange playdough
- Craft feathers
- Googly eyes
- Acrylic gems
- Mini nests
- Mini eggs

I set our playdough tray up in my favourite monkey pod dip tray because it's the perfect shape to have playdough in the middle and the loose parts separated around the outside. Our monkey pod tray was a lucky op shop find, but you can find a similar wooden compartment tray online here. You could also use a plastic dip tray which can be found at most supermarkets and dollar stores, however they will crack over time. 

When we made these playdough chickens we used orange playdough and yellow gems, because that's what we had on hand at the time, however I would of preferred to use yellow playdough and orange gems {for the beak} to make them look more realistic. Playdough, acrylic gems, googly eyes and craft feathers are relatively easy to track down at dollar stores all year round. Mini nests and mini foam eggs are usually available at dollar stores in the lead up to Easter {I just buy in bulk so I always have some}, however they're available year round online from Etsy or Amazon.

The best part about a tinker tray style playdough invitation to play is that although there's generally a goal, in this case to build a chicken, there's no right or wrong way for kids to reach that end goal. In fact they don't even have to do what we as adults intended the activity to be. I like to think of tinker trays as the process art version of the play world, because it's more about the fun had throughout the process of playing rather than the outcome. This activity could also easily be turned into a bookish play idea by reading That's Not My Chick before playing.

We played alongside each other building our own chickens and although we started with exactly the same materials, we ended up making completely different chickens. I was really surprised because I thought she would naturally build a 3D chicken like I did, but then she made a 2D version. Even though I nicknamed it roadkill chicken {not out loud}, I actually kind of love it, because it's just another reminder of how kids see the world differently to adults.

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