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This post has been co-written with Ben Wolfson, a full-time educator and assistant principal in the USA.
These playdough mats will capture the imagination and pumpkin carving desires of your students and provide you with many opportunities for pumpkin fine motor activities for preschoolers. There’s nothing like Halloween in the preschool classroom. The whole month of October can be given over to the holiday, with spooky stories, candy counting, and pumpkin playdough fun to be had.
The Importance of Fine Motor Skills
These playdough prompts will help develop your students’ fine motor skills, which is their ability to manipulate objects with their hands and fingers. Playdough is the ideal tool for teaching fine motor skills as it’s a forgiving material that allows for errors and reshaping without having to worry about it drying out or staining. Fine motor skills underpin handwriting skills, and using these pumpkin printable playdough mats will help to build muscles and dexterity in your students as they get ready for writing.
Preparing the Jack O’Lantern Playdough Mats
For this activity you will need:
Optional but recommended: laminator
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While the playdough mats come with 4 faces per page, you will probably find that you want to enlarge them as you print to either 2 or even a single face per page at the start of the year. This will allow your students to get to grips with the playdough and create the sharp teeth and connected eyeballs and build the playdough directly on top of the images. You’ll then want a laminated class set of the large pumpkin pages for the Halloween fine motor activity extensions listed below.
Setting Up A Halloween Fine Motor Activity Station
These Jack o’lantern playdough mats can be used as tools for students to create spooky Halloween faces. Simply give them a block of colored playdough (orange preferably!) and have them recreate the face underneath. To challenge them, try some of these pumpkin fine motor activities for preschoolers
Guess the face – have students work with a partner. The first student picks a pumpkin printable from the pile and does their best to create the face with playdough. Their partner then has to guess which of the faces they tried to make. You could extend this further by having one of the partners pick a playdough prompt and then having to describe it for their partner to create.
Teach feelings faces – challenge your students to make pumpkin faces that resemble a feelings face. You could either call out an emotion and ask students to arrange their playdough to represent that feeling or read a story and pause to ask students to create how they think the main character is feeling.
Last man standing – finally, you could have each student make a different face as best they can. You then secretly choose a card at random, and give small clues as to which one you’ve chosen, such as “my pumpkin has no teeth”. When a student realizes their pumpkin isn’t the chosen one, they sit down until one person’s pumpkin is left. Students can then learn to organize and play this game as an independent station.
More Themed Centers Perfect for Halloween:
My Halloween Themed Centers is a variety pack of 10 games focused on early literacy, math, and fine motor skills.
These are the games included:
1) Witch Sight Word Spells – 40 pre-primer word cards provided with themed letter cards to form the sight words
2) Werewolf Spin and Cover Letters – alphabet divided into 5 different playing mats
3) Spider Web Sight Word Match – match the spider to its web to work on recognition of the pre-primer sight words
4) Trick or Treat Tracing – develop pre-writing fine motor skills with 15 different tracing patterns
5) Graveyard Alphabet Match – pair up the letter ghosts with their tombstones
6) Frankenstein Ten Frame Matching – big version and file folder version included
7) Candy Counting Mats to 10 – trick or treat themed counting mats that you can use with playdough or any counting manipulative
8) Count and Write to 10 – flashcards that can be used for counting the objects and then learning to write the number words
9) Measurement Cards – grab a ruler and record the lengths of 12 different creatures on the answer sheet provided
10) Halloween Treats Emotions Sorting Mats – 6 different sets of treats with 6 different emotions included
Other Halloween Printables You’ll Love:
1) Halloween Worksheet Pack – Lots of Halloween treats await your students in this fun-filled activity packet. 50 pages of literacy, math and fine motor practice inside!
2) Halloween Shadow Matching – Preschoolers need visual discrimination and matching skills in order to differentiate between the letters and numbers and to be able to classify objects. This Halloween shadow matching game develops these early literacy and math skills.
3) Werewolf Spin and Cover Letters – Learning to recognize letters is made fun and easy with this spin and cover game. Kids will be howling like a werewolf with excitement as they race to find all the letters on their mat.
4) Halloween Themed Centers –10 fun Halloween-themed literacy and math centers for preschool and kindergarten. No tricks, only treats, in this pack!
Educational Tools For Your Classroom:
Browse My Most Popular Math Printables:
1) Parking Cars Tracing Lines – More than 10 different tracing line patterns to choose from, all of which help with pencil control.
2) Scarecrow Arrange By Size – 3 different scarecrow-themed image sets that they will arrange from smallest to biggest.
3) Bumblebee Addition Game – Solve the sum and help the bee land on the correct flower!
4) Farm Shapes Mats – Use playdough, pompoms, stickers etc to learn 2D shapes.
5) Popsicle Stick Number Formation – Kids will love forming the numbers 1 to 10 when ice cream and popsicles are involved!
8) Counting Colorful Bugs – This printable book will help kids count to 10 while also learning about color words.
9) Humpty Dumpty Numbers – In this printable game, your students will practice number recognition using 1 dice or simple addition when using 2 dice.
10) Build A Number Santa – Match the number to the correct number word, tally mark and domino to form a Santa Claus
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