Play Dough Pumpkins: Shape Recognition Activity

Before you carve up the real thing, let your little one design their own play dough pumpkins!

We love play dough. Truly I don’t know how I would’ve survived this long without it. Once a week we pick a main project to do, and then we make our weekly play dough. This batch will then be used over and over and over again, buying me lots of time to get housework done or spend some nice calming moments before nap time. I love putting the play dough out with loose parts, so that she can design and play creatively.

We have already done a fall themed play dough activity with our fall tree, but I wanted to do something a little more Halloweeny! She has become obsessed with pumpkins (still deciding on being Doc Mcstuffins or a pumpkin for Halloween!) We both loved the cinnamon scented play dough from our tree, so I went through the cabinet and found pumpkin pie spice to make this the perfect recipe for play dough pumpkins!


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup liquid orange watercolors
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 Tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • Pumpkin pie spice
  • Green chenille stems
  • Black and green construction paper

Mixing up our favorite play dough recipe is so easy! Find the full tutorial in our mermaid play dough post here. Once we had our basic recipe mixed up, I had her sprinkle in the pumpkin pie spice. The smell was AMAZING, I wanted to make an actual pumpkin pie after!

Cutting Shape Pieces

Shapes have been sneaking their way into our books and activities, and I’ve been noticing Aaliyah pointing them out throughout the day. I wanted to expand on them for this activity, so each of our play dough pumpkins had different shape eyes. I just used scissors to cut small circles, rectangles, squares, and triangles and places them in one part of our loose pieces tray.

For the mouths I just cut different jack-o-lantern type shapes, so that she could choose which mouth she wanted. To make them look more like pumpkins, I cut leaves and stems from the construction paper and chenille stems.

Creating Play Dough Pumpkins

To start creating our play dough pumpkins I first demonstrated one for her. We always sing “roll it around roll it around in circles” when rolling out balls to help not roll them into snakes because tiny hands tend to roll up and down! I then assembled a pumpkin and asked her to name each characteristic as I put it on. We talked about the eye shapes, happy mouth, and where the stem and lead should go. Once it was complete I disassembled it. This is so important when little ones are creating, so that they make their own version and not copy yours.

To start her play dough pumpkins, she rolled a small ball of clay. I asked her to find the triangle eyes, and she sorted through the shapes to find them. She then carefully placed the other pieces, and we repeated until we had a shape play dough pumpkin patch.

Once all of our pumpkins were complete we counted them. I asked her to identify each shape one more time, and asked her to pick a favorite. Hers was the circles which were mine too! Like a little ghost! This is such a fun way to work on toddler math concepts!

What is your favorite Halloween activity?

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  1. Tyese @ Strong Mom Sad Mom Blog says:

    This is a cute Fall activity for toddlers. I have never made my own play dough but it seems easy enough!

  2. Such a clever Halloween activity for the kiddos! I will be doing this with my three-year-old!

  3. Chells | Bottles + Bellinis says:

    What a fun activity! I am going to bookmark this to do it with Jax on the weekend.

  4. How have I never thought of this idea before? I love it, and it’s perfect for the Halloween season. I need to break out the playdough so that we can do this! Thanks for a fun activity for me us today!

  5. I like the idea of using other materials. It helps not do the blending of colors.

  6. i never thought of this but its such a cute idea!

  7. What a fun idea, my kids would love this activity! So fun to do with yummy smelling play dough for Fall too!

  8. This is too stinking cute! And I love that y’all made your own play dough.

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