Play Dough Portraits

I love seeing a child's self portrait, & the way in which they see themselves. Minnie has drawn & painted a self portrait before, but this was the first time she's created one using play dough! 


I set out this selection of materials that could be used to represent facial features, hair, etc, & added our homemade play dough.


We looked in a mirror together & talked about our faces, & Minnie named her facial features as we chatted. We looked at the differences & similarities in each others faces, & briefly discussed the shapes, colours & sizes that we noticed.

Minnie was keen to "make her own face", & we talked about what a self portrait was.

She keenly grabbed handfuls of play dough & squashed it to make her face shape. At first every art material available was being added, so we took another look at our facial features again in the mirror.


She was particularly fascinated by her eyes & spent a while studying these before creating her portrait. She added pasta shapes for her hair & decorated her locks with flowers. I love her beautiful flower eyes which were finished off later with conkers! As she made the mouth she pushed a thin lolly stick in saying; "Open wide! Don't worry I'm a dentist & I just want to check your teeth. Say aah!!" (It's always a joy to catch spontaneous imaginative play!)


Here's Minnie's first self portrait!


Here next self-portrait was accompanied by a story too. As she used handfuls of rosemary to represent her hair she said "I have very messy hair today, it's grown very long & keeps getting in my eyes!"


When I asked if her play dough face was happy or sad ( I could clearly see it wasn't happy!) she said; "It's sad because I can't see! The hair covers up my eyes!"


The play dough self-portrait then needed to look in the mirror to see their sad mouth!


These play dough portraits soon had everyone busy & became an activity for all the family!

Here's Daddy's self-portrait. (I have to say it doesn't really do him justice!) ;-)


Minnie was keen to take Daddy's apart to explore the patterns in the dough made by pasta!


Here's my self-portrait... stunning I know! Ha!


Soon Minnie was creating play dough portraits for other people. Here's her portrait of Daddy! Love the shell features! We're going to print this image onto card to make a Father's Day card for him on Sunday!


Minnie's Godmother had a baby this week, so guess who Minnie created next! We had a photo of the baby (just hours old) on my phone which Minnie examined carefully before producing this portrait. The small blob of play dough at the top is the baby's woolly hat!


To explore play dough portraits in a slightly different way I printed off a few of these blank face templates (A5 size) & added a couple of googly eyes.


These are great for recognising, naming, & positioning facial features, as well as exploring a variety of facial expressions & feelings/emotions.


And here's another face template minus the googly eyes. A creative way to explore the part to whole relationship, colours, shapes, & size, number, pairs etc.


Portraiture is a great way for young children to explore the concept of self, as well as different art forms. Using the play dough to create self portraits added an extra sensory dimension the the activity. The dough & the additional natural materials offered a variety of textures to discover, as did the patterns created in the dough. Maths, language, physical development (fine motor) PSE, problem solving, creative & imaginative development can all be explored in this simple play dough activity.

Have you taken the Play Dough Pledge yet? Why not have a go at creating your own portraits & create a play dough family art gallery!  Or share your mini masterpieces on our facebook page

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