Playdough Stamps and Ocean Critters! (Art + Books Series)

One of my goals for this year is to be more consistent at pretty much everything--doing art projects with my kids, doing extra activities for books, and also blogging.

So, for the next few months, I'm combining everything into a blog series about books and art projects!

fingerpainting with children

I've picked marine wildlife as my theme for this month, so last week, I unofficially kicked things off with a list of our favorite ocean-themed picture books.

This week, I've got my first art activity!

Playdough paint stamps:

(Bonus: this project is a great way to use up those messy playdough scraps you've been thinking about throwing out. It won't matter if the colors are all mixed up, because you'll be using the playdough for painting!)

Supplies: old playdough scraps, finger paints, and some paper.

When I started working on this project, I tried creating some actual stamps. Since I was planning an ocean-theme, I started with starfish and octopus shapes. Those seemed like nice, simple shapes that might work well as stamps.

fingerpainting octopuses

As you can see, though, from this first picture, playdough stamps don't really work for shapes.

However, playdough is fantastic when it comes to creating semi-abstract textures!

So, instead of creating an octopus, just break your playdough up into a variety of round, flat, or tube shapes and use those like a paint brush to create different textures!

Thin or tube shaped pieces can paint long blades of undersea grass.

Roundish blobs can build a great rock texture. Use heavier paint in some areas to show the darker textures of shadows.

I'd suggest pairing this project with Star of the Sea: A Day in the Life of a Starfish. In the book, the starfish loses one of its rays to a seagull, but that's not a big deal for a starfish, because they can recover and regrow their missing rays.

Besides regrowing parts of its body, a starfish has something else unique--radial symmetry.


Radial symmetry means that they have one basic shape that repeats around in a circle. You can demonstrate this for your students by creating a long thin triangle, then using it to stamp the same shape five times in a circle, creating the five rays of a star fish.

For this picture, I started with the red starfish, then filled in the blue and brown rock shapes around it. I added the yellow starfish over the rocks, just to see what that looked like.

a picture book art project

Now it's your turn!

See what shapes and textures you can come up with! I'd love to see what you create, if you want to tag me on Instagram or Facebook.

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