Playdough Mats are a fun way for kids to work with play dough at home or in the classroom, and bring in themes to their playdough exploration.
Our set of free printable emotions play dough mats includes 10 different play dough mats to use and re-use.
You can download them all in a free PDF file at the end of this blog post.
Play dough Mats can be used for learning, creative play, and even as a tool for writing. This set will help your kiddos get comfortable with understanding and naming their different feelings.
Helping Children Understand Emotions
The first step to being able to handle our own emotions, is to understand what it is we are feeling.
Giving kids the vocabulary to name their own emotions is really helpful, and this hands on activity opens up the topic in such a simple and easy way.
List of Emotions and Feelings for Kids
Here’s a list of 22 emotions and feelings that you can talk about with kids.
The first 8 are included in this printable play dough mat set, but you can expand the activity and use the blank faces to explore other emotions and talk about what kind of situations can make us feel these emotions.
Brainstorm with the kids – are there any others to add to their list?
We can talk about “I feel…. when…..”
“If …. happened, how would you feel?” and bring up all kinds of examples. Wait and see what examples the children suggest too, even younger children can have all kinds of insightful experiences to share about their emotions!
There is so much benefit in children being able to identify and name their feelings, so that they can understand their own emotions in different circumstances. This skill will be vital all the way through their lives, as they grow.
This emotions play dough activity for kids teaches them about emotions and offers an easy way to explore of all these conversations about feelings, even with the youngest toddlers.
You can also provide a book or some flashcards with different facial expressions to look at together and discuss. It is best if these can be with real photographs, rather than cartoon pictures.
Benefits of Using Playdough
Using play dough is a great fine motor work out for toddlers, preschoolers and young school aged kids, as any teacher will tell you.
Squeezing and squishing the play dough is an easy way to strengthen their little hand muscles all while having fun.
It also gives kids a chance to be creative, and make something with their hands, as well as being a great sensory experience. Choose your favorite color and roll and squish the dough to make all kinds of shapes.
Rather than taking about emotions in an abstract way only, let them get involved with their hands and make something that they can see and touch.
This tactile hands on learning is often a lot more effective than teaching with a standard worksheet with young children, and a whole lot of fun!
Learning About Emotions Playdough Mats
Print out the PDF file at the bottom of this blog post, and you will have all 8 pages, each in A4 size.
To use as a play dough mat, you should laminate the pages or place them inside (affiliate links) re-useable plastic pockets like these.
I recommend the learning resources brand which you can buy from Amazon, but any wipe clean wallets or dry erase pockets will do the job. These are so convenient because you can use them with all kinds of printables, and switch them up so easily.
Self laminating pouches are also great, and we have used these a few times. If you find that the play dough mats are being used over and over, and become one of your child’s favorite then I would recommend going with the self lamination pouches.
Use the 8 different emotion pages as a starting point, and then you can use them as a template to add your own feelings and emotions from the list above, if your child is interest to explore further.
Happy Face Playdough Mat
Can you make a happy face with play dough? Talk about what makes you feel happy?
As toddlers get older they can start to understand that what makes them happy and what makes other people happy are not always the same thing.
This understanding of individual likes and dislikes is a key moment, and allows children to understand things from someone else’s perspective.
Sad Face Playdough Mat
Talking about the negative emotions is just as important as talking about the positive ones.
Learning to accept them and get comfortable with them is not always easy – but let’s talk about it!
Angry Face Playdough Mat
Anger is another important negative emotion to talk about. We don’t have to repress our anger, let’s talk about healthy ways to release it and open up about the things that make us feel angry.
Shocked Face Playdough Mat
The shocked face is always one of my little daughter’s favorites!
Shocked can be a very funny facial expression and this one is a lot of fun to explore. Think up different scenarios where someone could feel shocked, and talk about the differences between feeling shocked and feeling surprised.
Funny Face Playdough Mat
When we are laughing, how do we feel? Talk about the things that make us laugh, and explore different ways of making a laughing face out of play dough, or making some silly funny faces.
Scared Face Playdough Mat
What makes you feel scared, and what do you do when you feel scared? What helps you feel better again?
These are a few topics to explore while making some scared faces together with your playdough.
Worried Face Playdough Mat
What does a worried face look like, and how do you create that shape from play dough? What kind of things make you feel worried?
Silly Face Playdough Mat
Making silly faces is a lot of fun, and you can get really creative with this one.
Proud Face Playdough Mat
Talking about the positive emotions is just as important. What makes you feel proud, and how does that look?
Sleepy Face Playdough Mat
Make your tired little play dough person go to sleep, with this sleepy or tired face play dough mat.
Confused Face Playdough Mat
The world can be a confusing place, let’s talk about the things that make us feel confused.
If your child is interested, you can also make the letters of the alphabet to spell out the names of each feeling written at the top of each playdoh mat.
More Playdough Activities
- Fizzy Volcano with Playdough
- Hexbug Mazes with Playdough
- How to make Shimmer Playdough
- Playdough Wind Up Racing Monsters
Make a fresh batch of home made play dough or stock up on playdoh supplies at Amazon to prepare for all of your play dough activities.
More Fun Hands On Printables for Preschoolers
- Free Printable CVC Word Puzzles
- Winter PomPom Mats Free Printable Fine Motor Activity for Kids
- Spring Nature Scavenger Hunt Printable
- Cookie Counting Printable Game
- Superhero Memory Game Printable Pack
Click below for your free instant digital download of the PDF file with all 8 emotions play dough mats included
If you enjoyed these free printable feelings play doh mats for kids, please go ahead and share with friends or on social media , so other parents and educators can benefit from our free resources.
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Anna Marikar, mum of four and seasoned blogger, has spent over a decade sharing her parenting journey and passion for kid-friendly crafts and free printables.
Her easy-to-follow craft ideas and practical parenting advice have transformed In The Playroom into a cherished resource for parents.