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I absolutely love teaching my preschooler with learning boxes and items that he already enjoys playing with on a regular basis, like play dough!

Learning Addition with Play Dough

To begin this activity, you will need to have something to make numbers in the play dough. We use Play Doh's Learn About Shapes and Numbers to do this activity, as well as our Number activity and our shape activity.

My little guy loves to add a lot of color to his activities, but you can just use one color of play dough to do this learning activity.

You will need a manipulative to do this hands-on activity.  We used beads, but counting bears, beans or other things would work, as well.


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I use the term ‘equation‘ when we are working on our math activities, like in using cars to learn addition and subtraction.  I say, “Build an equation with the addition sign.”

My preschooler will take the numbers that he desires and builds the equation, with the addition sign in the middle of two numbers and the equal sign at the end.

Using the manipulative of his choice, he builds it with counting the first part of the equation.


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Next, he ‘adds' the next part of the equation and counts the manipulatives to ensure he has the right amount.


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Once he knows he has the right number of manipulatives for each part of the equation, he moves then over to the other side of the equal size and counts them.


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Once he knows the number, he finds the play dough number and places it at the top of the manipulatives. He then says the equation: “4 plus 2 equals 6”.

We usually have time for three or four equation for a lesson before we stop.