Apple Playdough Activity: 15 Ideas to try

This simple no-cook apple playdough activity is just perfect for the Autumn months. If you’re wondering exactly where the apple scent comes from, well, that couldn’t be simpler – all you need are some apple tea bags!

Autumn is synonymous with apple picking, cider sipping, and pie baking. But there’s another fun way to bring this beloved fruit into your home: apple-scented play dough. This sensory activity not only captures the essence of the season but also offers an engaging, hands-on experience for children.

If you want a versatile sensory play activity for Autumn that isn’t super messy, look no further than homemade playdough! Every 6 weeks or so, we make a brand new batch of dough and this time around, we’ve gone for an apple theme. It’s perfect for the early weeks of Autumn when apple picking season is in full swing. Read on below for the recipe.

If you prefer something even more seasonal, you can try our homemade pumpkin spice playdough too – it’s a personal favourite of ours and one that we make year after year.


apple playdough activity overhead shot of a IKEA Glis box filled with red and green apple play dough


Key Benefits of this Apple Playdough Activity

As with all of the playdough recipes that we share, this is one that you can make with your children. In my opinion, getting the kids to help is all part of the fun and there are many educational benefits to this too, including:

  • Early math skills – measuring cups of ingredients is a great introduction to quantity and capacity. They can also count spoonfuls.
  • Language development and listening skills – following instructions and learning new terminology
  • Fine motor skills – holding kitchen utensils
  • Building hand strength – manipulating the dough
  • Bonding time – it can be a really lovely way to spend time with one another.

Apple Playdough Activity – Ingredients you need

You can make this apple play dough activity with the apple tea bags only or you can make it even more Autumnal by adding a teaspoon or two of cinnamon spice mix. We always use the same basic play dough recipe, which you can read about here. 

  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 2 tsp of cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 tbsp of oil
  • 1 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2-3 apple tea bags steeped in 1-2 cups of cooled boiled water
  • red and green food colouring (optional)

apple playdough activity in IKEA glis box

Method for making this apple playdough activity:

If you intend to make two different colours for this apple playdough activity, split the apple tea between two separate jugs, adding red food colouring to one jug and green food colouring to the other.

Whilst we’ve recommend the use of 2-3 apple tea bags here, it really depends on how strong you want the apple scent to be – the more apple scented tea bags you use, the stronger the scent will be. In our recipe, we’ve separated the apple tea and the cinnamon spice, however you might also wish to simply use apple and cinnamon tea bags!

  1. First boil 2-3 apple tea bags in 1-2 cups of water, along with food colouring, then leave to cool
  2. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and stir in well – if you want to add cinnamon, now is the time to do that too
  3. Next, add the oil – the mixture should bind together
  4. Gradually pour in the apple tea – if your child is helping, check that the water is cool enough for them to handle first
  5. Then mix together with a spatula or your hands. Check the temperature of the mix first before letting a little one do this!
  6. Keep adding more water until you get the desired play dough texture. It should be too crumbly or too sticky
  7. Add more water / flour as needed.

Check out our play dough care tips for information on storing your dough.

Apple Playdough Activity Box Ideas

We added the apple playdough along with some loose parts into an IKEA GLIS box for play. In my opinion this is the easiest apple playdough activity because once the box was made, it required zero additional set-up from me. My children could choose to play with the loose parts provided and create their own activities using their imaginations

The loose parts included in the apple playdough activity box were:

  • Sticks
  • Dried leaves
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Sequins
  • Pom-poms

If you’re looking for more ideas on what to include, read this blog post on Autumn. Loose parts play next.


15 Apple Playdough Activity Ideas

In the photo above, we shared a simple apple playdough activity idea with Autumn themed loose parts, however there’s plenty you can do with your dough once it has been made:

  1. Sculpt Apple Shapes: Mould the playdough into apple shapes, complete with a stem and leaf. You can even add small details like a bite taken out of the apple.
  2. Create Mini Apple Orchard: Roll out small balls of playdough to make a mini apple orchard. Add toothpick stems and use green playdough for the leaves.
  3. Apple Counting: Make apples in different colours and sizes. Use them for a counting or sorting activity, helping children learn basic math concepts.
  4. Apple Pie Pretend Play: Encourage imaginative play by having kids make miniature apple pies with the playdough. They can “bake” the pies and serve them to their stuffed animals or family members.
  5. Letter and Number Impressions: Flatten out the playdough and use alphabet and number stamps to create impressions. It’s a fun way to reinforce letter and number recognition.
  6. Scented Sensory Play: Apple playdough can engage the senses. Have children close their eyes and describe the scent or encourage them to make various shapes and guess which one they’ve created by smell alone.
  7. Nature-Inspired Art: Press leaves or twigs into the playdough to create beautiful nature-inspired patterns and designs.
  8. Apple Tree Art: Create an apple tree by shaping brown playdough into a tree trunk and branches. Add red or green apples to the tree for a lovely autumn scene.
  9. Storytelling: Use the playdough to act out scenes from apple-themed books or stories. Encourage children to create characters and props from the playdough.
  10. Color Mixing: Provide red and yellow playdough and let children experiment with mixing them to create various shades of apple colours.
  11. Math Manipulatives: Use small pieces of playdough as math manipulatives for addition, subtraction, or simple multiplication practice.
  12. Fine Motor Skills: Rolling, squeezing, and shaping playdough are great exercises for developing fine motor skills in young children.
  13. Dough Critters: Challenge kids to get creative by sculpting animals or creatures using the playdough. They can invent their own dough critters.
  14. Seasonal Decorations: Make playdough apples and hang them as decorations in your home for a touch of autumn charm.
  15. Sensory Exploration: Encourage sensory exploration by hiding small objects (like plastic apple pieces or beads) within the playdough for kids to discover.

Autumn Blog posts to read next:

If you loved this apple playdough activity post, you might also enjoy some of our other Autumn and Bear Hunt posts. Most are suitable for both toddlers and preschoolers:

Autumn Art Ideas for Preschoolers

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Mask

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt story basket

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt pre-writing skills  activity 

21 Autumn Ideas for the Entire Family

Autumn Activities for Kids: 25 Playful Prompts

Autumn Loose Parts Play

Autumn Preschool Leaf Cutting Tray

You can also search the keyword ‘Autumn’ in the blog search bar for the most up-to-date Autumn blog post listing.


Are you currently planning all things Autumn?

If you enjoyed this apple playdough activity, you might just like my exclusive membership, ‘How I drink my Coffee Hot’ too. The membership costs just $5 per month and you get access to 10 mini courses on a range of topics including sensory play, play spaces and starting school. Here are some membership posts that you might enjoy:

Autumn at Home Art and Sensory Camp

Family Rhythms for Autumn

Autumn Break with Kids 

Halloween with little kids? 

Sian Thomas
an image of This Playful Home founder, Sian Thomas. The photo includes a photo of her daughter when she was around 18 months old

I’m Siân (rhymes with yarn), a play advocate, proud parent to three, and former teacher. My mission is to infuse more joy and less overwhelm into the lives of parents. Discover play-based activities with me that not only make learning FUN but also forge deep connections with your young learners, creating memories to cherish forever.