Animal Imprints in Play Dough

Make imprints with plastic animals in play dough - a fun alternative to cookie cutters, especially for toddlers.

(E was 31 months old.)

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E loves using cookie cutters on play dough but often doesn’t manage to push all the way through. This frustrates her, and she often ends up asking me to do it for her.

I figured it would be easier and more satisfying for her to make imprints with plastic animals, without the expectation of “cutting out” anything.

We had a fresh batch of homemade play dough that I’d scented and dyed with Black Cherry Kool-Aid {read here about the basic recipe we use, and what we’ve done in the past when the play dough didn’t turn out as expected}, and I put it out for E with some new farm animal mini cookie cutters and a toob of plastic farm animals.

She automatically went for the cookie cutters – and actually cut out a cow on her first try 😉 

Cookie cutter cow.

Meanwhile, I got out the plastic cow and started pushing it into some play dough of my own. I hadn’t tested it beforehand but it really made a wonderful imprint – almost better than I’d imagined it.

Cow imprint in play dough.

This caught E’s attention, and the cookie cutters were forgotten.

She experimented with two plastic animals at once

Two animals stuck in play dough.

and admired the imprints they made. 

Horse imprint.

Too many prints on top of each other confused her, though, and she’d ask where the current animal’s print was. 

Lots of imprints on top of each other, and adding one more.

But no problem – let’s pound the play dough a bit 

Pounding the play dough with her fist.

and we can start over with more animals! 

Birds stuck in play dough.

After a while, she decided to cover her animals in play dough 

Covering the animals with play dough.
Missed a spot there!

Then started digging 

Digging her animals out.

 and was delighted to find them again. 

Yoohoo, there they are!


What I learned: Plastic animals make great imprints in play dough and are a great addition or alternative to cookie cutters.


Inspiration: Sugar Aunts did this as an extension of their brilliant Play Dough Farm activity.


Does your child enjoy using cookie cutters on play dough? Have you tried making imprints with other objects? Leave a comment and tell me!



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  1. We love making imprints in playdough! Thanks for linking it to Tuesday Tots. I’m featuring it today on Learn with Play at home 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Debs! Every time I see Tuesday Tots pop up, I think “But it’s not even… Wait, yeah, it IS already Monday night again!” 😉

  2. This is such a great activity for kids – Thanks for linking up to Tuesday Tots – I’m featuring quiet time and independent activities for tots this week on Rainy Day Mum and this is a great one. Please pop by and say hi