Play Dough Cupcakes

play dough cupcakes in a plastic cupcake holder. Text reads play dough cupcakes

These playdough cupcakes are one of our all-time favorite play dough activities! Occupational therapy providers know the incredible power of using play dough in therapy activities, so a fine motor activity like making pretend cupcakes with play dough is not only fun and engaging, it’s a fun dramatic play activity, too. The therapy providers love the benefits of motor skills, fine motor strength and coordination, too! Let’s make playdough baked goods!

play dough cupcakes

Playdough Cupcakes

All you need is a clean, recycled cupcake container and a few containers of play dough to make a batch of the best fine motor tools around. We love using our crayon play dough recipe to make colorful batches of play dough, but you can use any type of store-bought or homemade playdough.

Best of all, with different colors of dough, you can mix and match the cupcakes while building skills. Color matching with play dough is a fun way for preschoolers and toddlers to learn colors and so much more.

Why make Playdough Cupcakes?

One of the benefits of playing with play dough is the creativity that the material inspires. Playing with playdough is a great way to inspire fine motor STEM while building strength in the hands:

A stable and strong wrist is a powerful way to improve endurance in the hand during functional tasks.

How to Make Play Dough Cupcakes

The recipe to make play dough cupcakes is simple!

  1. Pull palm-sized balls of playdough from the container- this is a great way to improve intrinsic hand strength.
  2. Roll the ball of play dough between the palms.
  3. Press the ball of play dough into the cupcake container.
  4. Use small pieces of play dough to form imaginary decorations: sprinkles, icing, cherry, birthday candles, etc.

Using the fingertips of the hands to make these various small decorations really improves precision skills and dexterity in the hands.

We play with play dough so much around here.  This was one fun activity that we have enjoyed over and over again.  
We had a plastic cupcake holder from a recent bakery trip.  After the cupcakes were gone, we used the container to bake up some Play Dough cupcakes.  
Pinching play dough, rolling little play dough cherries and icing rolls, pressing the dough into the cupcake sections…there is some great fine motor play going on here!
Your cupcakes are served! 
Need more Play Dough play activities? 
Try making a play dough snake to work on skills like bilateral coordination and graded precision skills. 

How to make Stovetop Clean Mud Sensory Play

Have you ever made clean mud?  This sensory dough is very cool.  We’ve made the standard version before (you know the clean mud sensory dough where you cook a bar of ivory soap in the microwave?).  This month in the 12 months of sensory dough series, we thought we would try a new version of clean mud.  We made a stovetop clan mud using body wash.  This sensory dough turned out to be a very cool messy play activity and we ended up doing a little birthday party pretend play, too!
How to make clean mud with body wash! For sensory play
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How to make stovetop clean mud:

 With a broken microwave, we were out of luck making the traditional recipe for clean mud.  Or were we??? Why not try a stove top version of clean mud for a different twist on the usual clean mud recipe.  Instead of a bar of Ivory soap, we used body wash. (This scent also had a pink tint to it and the body wash made for a great cherry/vanilla scent.)

We started by filling a pot with torn toilet paper.  (We used the same pot we used for melting crayons for our crayon play dough.  If you don’t have a cheap sauce pan for kitchen experiments, be sure to pick one up. We use ours all the time!) Usually we make a large batch of clean mud using a whole roll of toilet paper.  This time, we just made a small amount.
If there was ever a reason for two kids to be happy, it was being told by an adult to go ahead and shred toilet paper.  These two sisters were in heaven!

Next,  add one tablespoon of body wash and one tablespoon of water.  Stir everything together over heat on the stove.  Keep stirring until the clean mud reaches the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Remove from heat and continue to stir.

Dump the clean mud onto a clean surface and let cool to touch.  Knead the dough just a bit to add “fluff” to the sensory dough.  You want the clean mud to be squishy but not too soapy.  You can adjust the texture by adding more toilet paper or soap/water.

How to make clean mud on the stove top (not microwave)
This stuff was so neat to play with!  We pulled out a few measuring cups and spoons to scoop, measure, and pat out.
Clean Mud birthday party sensory and pretend play
We decided to make our clean mud into a birthday party celebration for no reason in particular.  Singing “Happy Birthday” to every stuffed animal in the house is always a fun way to spend an afternoon.
We used pink cupcake liners
and red coffee stirrers
to create cupcakes and candles.
birthday party clean mud sensory pretend play
Birthday Party pretend play with clean mud sensory play
This was a huge hit in our house and we will certainly be making Stovetop Clean Mud again!

Frozen Snow Dough

Snow dough fake snow recipe

Today I have a fun sensory play experience for kids who need a tactile challenge, or just want some hands-on sensory play! This indoor snow is a fake snow recipe that is easy to make, but has TONS of developmental benefits. The pretend snow recipe is so easy (just 3 ingredients in this snow dough!) that kids can make it too. Let’s play! This is a winter sensory bin idea that kids love!

There are so many benefits to playing with Sensory dough, and using sensory materials like play dough with add-ins is one of our favorite ways to play.  We love concocting play dough, salt dough, and sensory doughs of all kinds.  This pretend play activity has another theme, too: Frozen!

Sensory snow dough is fun for pretend play and indoor snow fun!

What is snow dough?  

Snow dough is any “fake snow” type of sensory material.  There are a lot of snow recipes out there.  We’ve made a different version of sensory snowy dough before, using shaving cream.  But, you could use a variety of materials to get a just-right fake snow material.

Pretend snow is a great way to encourage pretend play with a sensory twist when the weather is too cold to get outside to play in the real snow…or if you’re in an area without wintery cold or snow.    

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Frozen Snow Recipe

Frozen snow dough for sensory play using characters from Frozen


I have a couple of Frozen obsessed little girls.  So, when I told them we were making a Frozen themed activity, there were shouts of excitement.  (And a few rounds of “Let it Snowwwwww!”

3 ingredient snow dough recipe for sensory snow play

How to make Fake Snow for sensory Play:

 This is a seriously easy sensory recipe to put together.  I had the idea for this recipe when I thought of my sugar cookies.  To make the royal icing, I use my KitchenAid mixer and mix mix mix for a long time.  

This fake snow recipe calls for a just three ingredients:

  • 3 cups baby powder
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
Easy snow dough recipe

To make the fake snow:

Slowly scoop or pour the baby powder into the mixing bowl.  Add the warm water one tablespoon at a time with the mixer running on it’s lowest setting.  Start stirring with your spoon to get the powder and water mixture started.

The powder will puff up in the air if you turn the mixer up too high, too quickly.  I draped a dish towel over the mixer because even on the lowest setting, the powder clouded up a bit.  

After all of the water is mixed in, add the two tablespoons of oil.  At this point, the mixture should be a crumbly texture.

Turn the mixer speed up to a medium speed and let the mixer run for 4-5 minutes.  You could definitely mix this dough by hand, but the mixer added more fluff to the sensory dough.

Make snow dough in a mixer or you could mix by hand.

And, we’re ready for some sensory play!

Snow dough recipe using baby powder and shaving cream


I poured the sensory material on a low tray and added glass gems, clear marbles, and blue glass gems to get it ready for the Frozen theme sensory play.    

tactile sensory play with fake snow and glass gems
Snow dough pretend play activity for kids

My girls got into the Frozen theme pretend play right away.

Indoor snow play idea with fake snow

  This dough is mold-able and you can form little snowballs or even build a snowman.  

Mold fake snow using this snow dough
This fake snow recipe is a fun indoor snow activity for kids
Build snow castles with fake indoor snow

  We built Elsa’s ice castle and decorated it with the gems.  

Indoor snow play with snow dough
Frozen snow activity with Elsa
Frozen snow pretend play activity

The two sisters that live in my house pulled out their Frozen figures sisters and had SO much fun playing Frozen.  The pretend play that happened in this small world was so much fun to watch!

Fake snow dough recipe and use glass gems for fine motor skills.
Winter indoor play idea for kids

  This pretend play snow was the perfect sensory play activity for when there’s a wintery blizzard outside.

Store snow dough in a plastic bag

  When we were finished with our pretend play, we packaged up the snow dough and delivered it to friends who are also huge Frozen fans.  Pass on the sensory play!  

Snow Sensory Bin

This fake snow is the perfect base for a snow sensory bin, with other themes, too. Use the cards and sight words in the Winter Fine Motor Kit, to challenge kids in scissor skills, reading, sight words, sequencing, storytelling, and visual perceptual skills. The Winter Fine Motor Kit has simple and complex shapes with all kinds of Winter themed images including mittens, arctic animals, penguins, snowflakes, and more. These shapes and words can be hidden in the fake snow sensory bin for kids to hide, find, and hide again.

To up the fine motor work further, add tongs, scoops, small bowls and bins, and more.

For more ways to work on scissor skills, along with all of the fine motor skills needed for scissor use and handwriting, try the Winter Fine Motor Kit. It’s loaded with cutting activities, lacing cards, coloring, clip activities, fine motor art, and fun ways to help children develop pre-writing hand strength, dexterity, and motor skills.

Use the fine motor activities, lacing cards, toothpick art, and crafts in the Winter Fine Motor Kit. It’s a 100 page packet with all winter themes, and you’ll find winter fun there!

winter fine motor kit
winter fine motor kit

More Indoor snow recipes

Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to


Littlest Pet Shop Party Ideas

My daughter (age 7) is a HUGE planner.  She loves to create, plan play ideas, write lists, plan parties, and organize.  My favorite scenario that she pretends and plans is her pet shop/beauty shop/school/day care. (Really, that sounds like a genius operation!)
When we had the opportunity to plan a Littlest Pet Shop Party for a few of her friends, I was very excited to tell her about the fun we would be having.  We got busy planning and she grabbed her pen and started making lists for party planning.  The invite list, the food, the activities…this is her kind of fun! (And lets be honest, her mom’s too.  We love our parties!)

Littlest Pet Shop Party Ideas

Littlest Pet Shop party ideas with snacks, craft, play, and more. This would be a great play date idea too, or just for fun!
I love that Big Sister can be who she wants to be with her ideas.  This party was such a fun way to expand on some of her interests with friends.  The Littlest Pet Shop empowers fans to Be Who They Want to Be, so this was a perfect fit for her big ideas!  From creating their own cities to customizing style sets and figures, the Littlest Pet Shop fans can create, decorate, and glamorize as they like.  With over 100 pets, there is a lot of fun and imagination to be had!  The city skyline can be arranged horizontally or vertically for unique fun and pretending.
Our Littlest Pet Shop party was so much fun.  Big Sister invited a cousin and a few friends (who happen to be HUGE Littlest Pet Shop fans!) We Customized our Blythe’s Bedroom set with stickers and Deco Bits (unique accessories that can be moved again and again for decorating fun).  This is a toy that can be used in so many ways in pretend play. 
The move-ability of the sets were great for lots of little hands to play.  We set them out on our train table before the party so that everyone could get in on the pretend play fun.  We loved that the sets could be accessed from all sides and there are play scenes on the back of the sets, too.  

The Littlest Pet Shop style set was big time fun for Big Sister and her shop planning.  She pretended to make a shop for dog bones and accessories.  There was a lot of purchasing and decorating with the style bits.

Penny Ling is a favorite in our house.  We used this little cutie to design our world digitally, too with the Littlest Pet Shop app.  Hold the toy, scan with your smart phone, and play! 

 Littlest Pet Shop Party Food


We served the girls chicken nuggets, noodles, and carrots, but every party needs a few snacks.  We served up Animal crackers and “Pet Shop Punch”.

What Pet Shop animals can you match up to the animal crackers?

Littlest Pet Shop Craft

We made popcorn bags as a Littlest Pet Shop craft.  The girls were big craft-fans, so this was fun!  I had an example of our popcorn crafts set out and the girls got busy with their painting.  We used these as popcorn bags for our movie later during the party. 
To make our Littlest Pet Shop popcorn bags, we glued on purple and pink pet bowls with an oval for the girls’ names.  They glued the pieces into place and then painted on the popcorn.  Popcorn in a pet bowl?  Perfect party snack for Pet Shop fans!
Next, we painted on popcorn.  We used cotton balls clipped onto a clothes pin. This made a great handle for the girls to paint popcorn on the bags.  Dab the paint dry and let the project dry completely before drawing on black outlines to the popcorn.  Alternately, you could glue on popcorn to the bag.

We decorated a bit more with stickers.

The popcorn bags dried while the girls played with pets. 

Littlest Pet Shop Party Play

Cute movie alert!

Girls watched the video on couch cushions spread out on the floor and took playing breaks at the play sets.  It was so much fun watching their pretend happening (and getting in on the action-a Mom’s gotta relive her pretend play days on long ago!  Plus, it’s just fun!)

These girls were loving the movie!  The popcorn was a hit for movie snacking.

This play set has been in pretend play action for weeks, now.  We’ve been arranging, re-arraigning, sorting, decorating, and styling our pets and loving it!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Craft

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are a big part of Little Guy’s pretend play and fun on a daily basis.  He’s got the action figures and sets up battles with them, pretending all kinds of ninja action.  If you’ve got a ninja turtle fan in your house, these egg carton figures are the thing to make!
We’ve been playing with these pretend play figures every day for a couple of weeks now…even taking them outside for some ninja turtle fun.  They have battled superman, been victims of his lasso skills, and met a few worms.  These guys are making their rounds in our house lately!
TMNT egg carton play figures


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Craft

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We started with some egg cartons that Baby Girl and I painted green.  

We used wiggly eyes that we received free from our friends at  A little glue on these guys and they were ready for painting.

For the masks and mouths, I used acrylic paints
for a nice and bright color. 
They are looking pretty cute for a bunch of mutant turtles with mad ninja skills!

These guys were immediately a hit with Little Guy.  They were easy to make and basically free, using paints that we already had.  These would be a fun addition to a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle themed birthday party too.  We had a TMNT that we had a teenage mutant ninja turtle party for his fourth birthday…and he talks about it allllll the time.

We took them outside and have been playing with our TMNT guys in the dirt, with sticks and stones.
Little Guy made a pizza shop using sticks and a sidewalk with rocks.  LOVE the pretend play happening here!

Little Guy loves his “ninja turtle egg heads” and we’ve been having so much fun!

Let us know if you make these!