Play Dough Tray Horses
Theme-Based Learning

Play Dough Tray – Horses

Play dough trays (often called invitations) are trays you set up for focused play.  I honestly recently found out about this kind of play and while I see tons of beautifully curated trays of all kinds, I do not have the time, money, or focus to set them up to look as nice.  I know that they are from the Montessori style of learning – however I haven’t researched enough to delve into all of that. The concept is still there and I love them because:

  • My kid usually takes play dough – mushes all of it together – into a gray- brown blob (look I know my kid isn’t the only one) – forces me to make stuff for her and then gets bored quickly.  Even though we have little dough toys, molds, and cutters.  We still play with them, but I keep them where we can do that as a bedtime activity and I have time to spend with her.  However, when I am working or running around the house doing stuff – this type of tray comes in handy.
  • As mentioned above – fosters independent play
  • Screen-free – unplugged is always a win for me
  • Inexpensive as you choose to make it
  • Can be changed out and re-used for other crafts or play later on
  • Can be taken out and put away quickly
  • Can be made in many different ways
  • Engages in fine motor skills
  • Engages in pretend play

My toddler has been suddenly very into horses lately and I recently decided to make one of these trays.  I was in the dollar store and found craft sticks, a small bin/tray, play dough, and a small package of horses.  We had also been to a library book sale that week and she had picked out a book about horses for 10 cents.  I chose some rocks from her collection on our porch and viola!  Play dough horse tray! Total cost: $4.10

She loved it and plays for at least 20-30 minutes.  It is also an excellent thing to take out when she is overexcited or needs some quiet time right after a nap or bedtime.

Play Dough Tray Play Play Dough Tray Play

The great thing about this is you can replicate it with anything.

  • Any sticks will work, even branches from outside (it is snow covered by us so I chose the craft sticks).
  • Kids into dinosaurs or sea animals or horses – you can change them out.
  • I use play dough but some people prefer homemade dough.  I haven’t personally made any but there are tutorials here and here.
  • I used a plastic dollar store bin, however many people use wooden trays.
  • Rocks work, but so do pine cones, acorns, whole nuts – whatever your choose – however it is nice to add a natural element to the tray.

Need more ideas for play dough trays?  Try this simple winter tray .

Or this snow dough.

Learn more about the Montessori principles behind this learning tool. 

Printable Horse Activities

Horse Sensory Look & Find

Horse Learning Pack

Books and Toys About Horses for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Books

Toys

If your kid is really into horses, here is some cute decor for the bedroom or playroom:

Western Cowgirl Part Wall Decal

 

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