Playdough Snowman: Counting & Math Activity for Winter!

After the Thanksgiving holiday, my family transitions to Christmas and winter activities, even in sunny California!  Snow-related activities are just so fun, and my kids think snowmen are so cute.  Although they have never seen snow, they have a blast creating playdough snowmen and mini snowballs!  I hope your kids will love this playdough snowman learning activity, too!

Playdough snowman counting math activity for winter

Today, while my 2-year-old son was napping, my 5-year-old daughter and I quickly cooked up a fresh batch of white playdough.

After he woke up, he was excited to see all of the mini playdough snowmen and couldn’t wait to join in on the fun learning!

I’m happy to share our easy homemade playdough recipe. In addition, I’ll share how the playdough snowman activity was useful for teaching basic math to children of different developmental levels.

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Playdough Snowman: Learning begins in the kitchen

Homemade 橡皮泥 (xiàngpí ní / playdough) is so fun to make with children, and the process involves so much learning!

  • Practical life skills:
    • Preparation: Pouring, mixing, kneading, rolling, etc.
    • Clean-up: Wiping countertops/chairs, sweeping with the Swiffer
  • Vocabulary: practice using cooking-related words
  • Reading/Math/Science:
    1. Reading recipe
    2. Checking labels of measuring cups and spoons
    3. Estimating volume of each ingredient
    4. Adding fractions (eg, How many 1/4 teaspoons makes 1 1/2 teaspoons?)

Related: 7 Easy Ways to Teach Chinese and Korean with Play Dough (VIDEO)

Playdough Snowman: Counting & Math Activity for Winter!

Playdough Snowman math learning objectives

My daughter is 5-years-old, and my son is 2-years-old.  Although their developmental needs are very different, hands-on activities are the most effective way that I can teach both kids simultaneously.  While the kids are playing with playdough, the goals I keep in mind are:

  • 2-year-old:
    • Counting: practice counting in each of his 3 languages (English, Chinese, Korean), with a focus on Chinese since that is currently our main language together
    • Size comparison: Which playdough ball is bigger? Which is smaller?
    • Colors: What color is the playdough? What colors are the accessories?
    • Shapes: Arrange playdough into a line
    • Physical properties: Does this roll? Stick? Squish?
  • 5-year-old:
    • Addition/subtraction
    • Multiplication: Each snowman has 3 balls.  If there are 4 snowmen, what is the total number of balls? (eg, 3 x 4 = 12)
    • Division:  Create 16 playdough balls, and give them to 4 people in even amounts (eg, 16 / 4 = 4)
    • Fractions: Cut one snowball into halves, thirds, fourths…

Playdough Snowman: Counting & Math Activity for Winter!

Easy, fresh, homemade playdough recipe

I cannot tolerate the smell and texture of store-bought playdough, so I always make our playdough at home!  Here is our go-to recipe!

Playdough ingredients

  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tbsp veg oil
  • 1/2 cup water

(No food coloring for white play dough)

Instructions on how to make playdough:

  1. Pour ingredients in pot
  2. Mix thoroughly on low heat until contents solidify
  3. Let cool and knead
  4. Time to play!
  5. Store in airtight container in refrigerator


  • Add more oil if needed to soften the dough
  • Sprinkle more flour if too sticky

Playdough Snowman: Counting & Math Activity for Winter!

Have you made play dough snowmen with your child(ren) or student(s)?

I hope your kids have a blast playing and learning with the playdough snowman activity!  Learning opportunites are endless, especially when kids are willing participants!

For multilingual families, remember to seize the moment and speak the minority language consistently while playing!

Please let us know if your kids make play dough snowmen in the comments below!

What other winter activities will you be doing with your family?

Leave a note in the comments below!

More playdough learning learning activities

If your kids love playdough, they’ll definitely enjoy Playdough Mooncakes – Mid-Autumn Festival Activity with Recipe!

Playdough mooncakes mid-autumn festival

Winter and Christmas activities for multilingual kids

Holiday shopping guide for kids

Happy playful learning, friends!

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