We love playdough at our house, not just because it is squishy and fun (although it is), but also because it can be used for so many different learning activities. Playdough can be used for everything from forming numbers and letters to even science experiments! This time, we used playdough as the medium for an engineering challenge for my preschooler. Her goal was to create a car using just playdough and toothpicks. I was pretty impressed at all the details she remembered and how long she spent building and designing the car. I think, if given the right materials, this design would make an excellent go-kart!

Design a racecar play dough STEM activity for kids

Recommended Grade Level:

Materials for the Play Dough Racecar STEM Activity:

  • Play Doh
  • Popsicle Sticks

I allowed my daughter to have four colors of play dough. This was mainly because we only had four colors at the time, but also to keep her from mixing the colors up too much.

The challenge was to design a race car. She did most of the building and designing herself, but I did help stabilize the car for her in the early stages.

building a play dough racecar

First, she build the car’s main structure.

Next, it was time to add details! I love that she remembered to put on lights, a seat, a steering wheel, and the little wheel covers. I thought she was done before she added these little details, but she made sure everything was precise before submitting her final design, just like a real engineer ought to. We didn’t have any toys handy to put inside as the driver, but her car would have been the perfect size for a DUPLO person.

play dough racecar

I love this engineering challenge because there is room for creativity, but with a structured thought behind it. My preschooler had a blast with this activity and it was fun to see her mind in action during the design process.

Planning for a Transportation Theme? We’ve done all the work for you!

We now have interactive thematic lesson plans for toddlers (18-35 months) AND preschoolers (3-5 years)! Get ready for fun and learning with unit lesson plans for your TRANSPORTATION THEME. Explore a variety of themed hands-on activities! Easy to follow lesson plans include activity modifications and adaptations to meet the needs of all learners. For more information, click on the graphics below:

Find even more engaging activities in the Life Over C’s shop!

play dough racecar experiment for kids
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Kim Staten Owner and Curriculum Designer
Kim Staten is a mother of four children ages 20, 19, 16, and 12. Kim has taught at the preschool, kindergarten and early elementary levels for 16 years. With extensive experience working with special needs children, including her own children with special needs (Rett Syndrome, autism, anxiety, and ADHD), she creates hands-on curricula and activities that are great for working with children of all abilities in the classroom and at home. Hands-on, accessible activities are her passion. 

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