Build Shapes with Play Dough

Build Shapes with Play Dough

Help little ones get their basic geometry skills in top shape with a fun, hands-on math activity to kick off the new year. Grab a pack of play dough and get ready to build 2D and 3D shapes. You and your students are going to love this activity! Read on to find out more.

Build Basic Shapes

Give your students hands-on practice with basic two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes with this fun math activity. All you need to build basic shapes is play dough and toothpicks or plastic straws. Here's what to do:

Help children break off little pieces of play dough and roll them into balls. They will use the play dough balls to connect the sides of the shapes they build. Set the play dough balls aside so they are ready to use. 

If you are using toothpicks for the activity, set a pile of toothpicks in front of each child. If you are using plastic straws, cut the straws into smaller, equal segments with a pair of scissors. (You may want to do this ahead of time.) 

First, children can try building a few 2D shapes using the play dough balls and toothpicks/plastic straws:

Build Flat Shapes
Build 2D Shapes
Flat Shapes Activity

Then, children can try building some 3D shapes:

Build Solid Shapes
Build 3D Shapes
Solid Shapes Activity

Here are some tips to make this geometry activity a success:

  • Walk through each shape together as a class. For example, start by building a triangle, then a square, then a pentagon. Then move on to harder shapes, like a cube or a pyramid. If you choose, you can display a picture of each shape on your whiteboard or overhead projector for students to model. This may be especially helpful when you get to the three-dimensional shapes. 
  • Talk about the attributes of each shape after your students have had a chance to build them. How many sides, corners, faces, and/or vertices does the shape have?
  • Put students in pairs or small groups and challenge them to build 2D and 3D shapes together. 

This activity is ideal for kindergarten, first-grade, and second-grade students. 

What activities do you like to use to teach basic shapes to your little learners? Comment below with your ideas and suggestions. We'd love to hear from you!

Looking for more interactive math activities to try with your elementary students? Visit to explore hundreds of engaging math games. 


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