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Heather Broadbent

Music Games - Playdough Activities

January 7, 2013 at 2:20 PM

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Who would have thought playdough can be used in music lessons? If you are struggling with group piano lesson ideas or violin group lesson ideas you will find this post to be helpful. Playdough activities are perfect for violin or piano group lessons with children and young adults. I use it with music theory and have the students create music symbols, key signatures, notes, rhythms and more. A great game is to divide the children into two teams and they create with the playdough different music symbols and the other their teammates have to guess what is the playdough creation. It is similar to the game win, lose or draw but with playdough.

You can use the homemade playdough to teach how to read music. Draw a lage staff on cardboard or posterboard and have the students make their playdough notes and put on the staff. You can have a guessing game between teams and keep score on this game. If it is edible paydough the winning team or student with the correct answer can collect the playdough and eat after the game is finished.

Below my playdough video I have listed a link to amazon for colored playdough, homemade playdough recipes and homemade edible playdough recipes. How much fun for the children to eat their musical creations or compositons.


You don't have to buy the playdough at the store - here are great homemade play dough recipes:

Play Dough Recipe:

1 cup white flour 1/2 cup salt 2 tablespoon cream of tartar (find it in the spice section) 1 tablespoon oil 1 cup water food coloring

Mix first 4 ingredients in a pan. Add water and mix well. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3 – 5 minutes. Dough will become difficult to stir and form a “clump”. Remove from stove and knead for 5 minutes–add food coloring during kneading process. Play dough will keep for a long time stored in a covered plastic container or plastic sandwich bag.

And if you want edible play dough recipes so the students can eat their musical creations:

Kool-Aid Play Dough

1 cup flour
1 cup water
1/2 cup salt
3 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
1 package Kool-Aid Mix (any flavor of unsweetened)
1 tablespoon cooking oil

Mix dry ingredients together in a large saucepan. Slowly add water mixed with oil and stir over medium heat until mixture thickens to dough. Turn out onto a heatproof bread board or counter top and knead until cool enough for children to handle. Dough will be the color of the Kool-Aid mix and will smell like the Kool-Aid mix. (Can be stored in a tightly covered container for up to six months)

Jell-O Play Dough

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
1 tablespoon oil
2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
1 (3-1/2 oz.) package "unsweetened" Jell-O

Mix all ingredients together and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until consistency of mashed potatoes. Let cool and knead with floured hands until dry.

Storage: This recipe needs to cool completely "before" storing it in an airtight container!

Note: The items made from this play dough recipe can be painted when they are dry.

Oatmeal Play Dough

1 part flour
2 parts oatmeal
1 part water

Mix ingredients together and form into shapes.

Note:The items made from this play dough recipe can be painted when they are dry.

Cream Cheese Play Dough

8 oz. package of cream cheese
1/2 cup non-fat dry milk
1 tablespoon honey
crackers or bread slices

Combine cream cheese, milk and honey in a bowl and mix until well blended. Mold sculptures on was paper.

Storage: Unused portions MUST BE STORED in an airtight container and kept refrigerated! Because cream cheese is perishable, use the expiration date on the cream cheese package as your guide for how long you can keep this play dough.

Note: The shapes can then be placed on crackers or bread slices, decorated with edibles (celery or carrot slivers, raisins, dried fruit pieces, nuts, or seeds for a healthy snack... then eat!

Have fun!!!!!!

Heather Broadbent

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From Annette Brower
Posted on January 8, 2013 at 1:33 AM
I LOVE this idea! Thanks for sharing:-)
From Heather Broadbent
Posted on January 8, 2013 at 9:02 AM
So glad you liked it:) If you do this activity keep me posted on how it goes.
From Royce Faina
Posted on January 8, 2013 at 3:40 PM
This is really cool! A child’s magical thinking & creativity at work learning their music and fun for adults too. This would make a great “Family Night” activity.
The thought just occurred that for new adult learners clay/play dough would be great for strengthening the left hand’s muscles. Neat post!

From Heather Broadbent
Posted on January 8, 2013 at 4:23 PM
Great point for adult learners:) Glad you liked the post.
From Royce Faina
Posted on January 9, 2013 at 12:52 AM
Thank you! Children, it would seem, do have an advantage learning an instrument with their bones, tendons & muscles in progress of developing. Watching adults begining to learn & relearning an instrument it seemed that half our battle is developing the needed stregnth & tone of the body members needed to play. Clay/play dough is used by physical therapists. So after reading your post the connection was made so thank you for this blog!!!
From Heather Broadbent
Posted on January 9, 2013 at 1:23 PM
I broke my wrist and had to be in physical therapy for three months doing strength training exercises. One of the best ones was using a finger strengthener called gripmaster. I would suggest starting light. I had weakness in my fourth finger after the break and this helped. I had a student with POTTS for awhile. If you are not familiar with this illness it weakens the muscles and she noticed it first with her fourth finger in her left hand. She ordered one of these to help with strengthening.

Here is another youtube video of mine specifically for finger strengthening.

Clay and playdough are great - I had to squeeze different balls in physical theapy to help my left hand get back into shape after the break.

From Royce Faina
Posted on January 10, 2013 at 5:48 PM
Thanks for the video! Yes, I remember these finger stregnthening aids... and I remember the different balls. A violin preofessor recomended stretching exercises to warm up before playing including wrist & forearm & shoulder are exercises.
From Annette Brower
Posted on January 11, 2013 at 3:42 PM
I used the playdough at a group class last night. It was a hit. What surprised me the most was how quiet they were. I thought maybe the activity would cause too much excitement but it didn't. I gave each a large piece of posterboard with staff lines so they could see where their creations would fit into making real music.

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