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Thursday, July 1, 2021

Build a Spider Playdough Invitation to Play

For some fun Halloween play I set up a build a spider playdough invitation for my girls. It's a great way for kids to do Halloween themed sensory play, without things getting too creepy. It would also be a fun way to learn about spiders and minibeasts if you're homeschooling.

This activity is not only fun for home, but would also be great at daycare, playgroup, kindy or prep for some fine motor and sensory fun. As the kids roll, squeeze, pinch and poke the playdough and loose parts into a spider shape they're working on pincer grip and hand strengthening, which are great ways to build up hand muscles for writing.

spiders made with playdough and loose parts


I set up our spider playdough invitation to play in our sectioned monkey pod tray because it has a place for everything. I found our monkey pod tray at an op shop {there's a similar one online here}, but you could also use any sectioned tray or even a plastic dip tray from the supermarket.

This playdough activity provides so many opportunities to help strengthen fine motor skills and opens up opportunities to develop language and communication skills and learn facts about spiders. You can build on these opportunities by asking questions like How many legs does your spider have? What do you think your spider eats? Where does your spider live?

Even though the goal is to build a spider, it's 100% ok if kids have totally different ideas of how to play with the playdough and loose parts. No matter how they play they'll still be working on their fine motor skills and enjoying sensory stimulation, which are both important for childhood development.
playdough tray - invitation to build a spider


  • Playdough
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Googly eyes
  • Matchsticks 
  • Coloured gems

For our playdough spiders I set out some black playdough, black and brown pipe cleaners, coloured matchsticks, googly eyes and some coloured gems. You can also use other loose parts like cut up straws {bendy straws would make great spider legs}, beads or mini plastic spiders. You could also make spiderwebs for the spiders using Halloween fake spiderweb or by twisting white or silver pipe cleaners into a spiderweb shape.

I used a variety of different coloured and sized googly eyes so the girls could make different spiders. I also included 8 of each coloured matchstick and 8 of each colour of pipe cleaner, although I didn't tell the girls the spiders needed 8 legs {because I wanted to see what creative spider designs they'd come up with on their own}. 

invitation to build playdough spiders
My girls absolutely love playing with playdough, in fact it's without a doubt their favourite sensory base ever - and one of the only activities they'll do alongside each other without arguing. We do playdough invitations to play quite often, as they love being able to get creative without any rules. I love watching how their designs are different because of their ages and developmental abilities.

childrens hands making a playdough spider
playdough spider that looks like an ant
My 7yr old knows spiders have 8 legs so she instinctively made spiders that had the right amount of legs. She did experiment however with different body shapes - long and short and adding gems to create redback spiders. She also ended up using different numbers of eyes and different types of legs.
orange leg redback playdough spider
My 4yr old tried mimicking the spiders I was making to make some that looked like real spiders, however most of hers were random creations and she was more focused on making a body, face and legs. I love the cute designs she came up with and how she made spiders with smiley faces.

smiley face playdough spider
playdough spider with red legs

The best part about building playdough spiders was that it was a collaborative activity that started out as parallel play and ended up in cooperative play. All 3 of us were creating alongside each other but it also helped teach the girls to share {the playdough and loose parts}, work together, listen to each others ideas and eventually they replicated and extended on each others ideas. The spiders shown below are my 4yr old's {bottom}, 7yr old's {top left} and mine when they both tried to copy my redback spider.

different types of playdough spiders


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