Make: A Summer Swim-Themed Playdough Invitation

Here’s a quick and easy summer swim DIY playdough mat you can make yourself. Of course, we’ve also included some ideas to help you turn this into an invitation to design playdough bathing suits, explore textures, or simply enjoy the calming sensation of squishing some cool, colorful dough between your fingers!

A paper person decorated with a playdough swimming suit sitting on a paper summer playdough mat surrounded by playdough and small play tools.

For more summer play for little hands, combine earthy playdough colors with feathers, paper straws, and nature cuttings from the backyard to make your own playdough fairy forests or playdough sea slugs. Then take a virtual trip to the beach with a summer moon sand sensory activity.

For your own summer swim playdough invitation you’ll need:

Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains Woodpeckers Crafts and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*


  • Playdough (if you’d like to DIY it, we have an incredibly simple recipe we like to use here!)
  • Colored construction paper or cardstock
  • A white crayon, oil pastel, or colored pencil
  • Loose parts, nature finds, and other craft supplies


DIY Summer Swim Playdough Invitation Instructions:

  1. Make a water background on construction paper or cardstock.

    Using a white oil pastel or crayon, draw wobbly lines all the way across your paper lengthwise to make an uneven grid – this will give you the effect of water moving over pool tiles!
    Use a white oil pastel on blue cardstock or construction paper to make wav lines from top to bottom and left to right.
    Note: You can keep it simple by skipping this step and just using a blue piece of paper.

  2. Add a paper pool float and swimmer, then tuck into a ziplock or laminate

    Trace a plate or similar onto paper, then cut out and glue to the water background for a simple pool float. You can glue one of our full-sheet-sized people templates on top or draw and cut out a simple person outline on your own.

  3. Layout your mat and playdough along with rolling, cutting, and stamping tools

    Slip the entire page into a sheet protector or laminate, and set out with different colors of playdough, utensils to roll, cut, and stamp with, decorative craft or natural supplies, and other loose parts.
    Layout your playdough and DIY playdough mat along with rolling, cutting, and stamping tools.
    Tip: Use masking tape or similar to tape your playdough mat to your working surface – this saves a lot of frustration when rolling and cutting!

  4. Design a playdough swimsuit

    Let the swimsuit designing begin! Little ones can use their hands to mold the playdough into shape or try a rolling pin (we just used a simple wooden block) and child-safe scissors.
    Design a playdough swimsuit

  5. Add details with playdough and other loose parts and decorative items!

    Part of the fun of playdough is exploring what the dough can do, the textures you can stamp into the surface, and how it can be used with other supplies.

    Add details to your swimmer with playdough, or other loose parts, nature supplies and other decorative items!
    For a couple of good examples of recycled items put to use in our invitation, clear water bottle caps combined with playdough straps make the perfect set of swim goggles! And an old glue cap was used to stamp the circular pattern into the top of our swimsuit.

Supplies you can use to add texture to your playdough

There are so many great supplies you probably already have around the house that can be used to easily create cool textures in playdough. A few of our favorites include:

  • Cookie cutters
  • Bottlecaps
  • Bubblewrap
  • Legos
  • Plastic Toys
  • Plastic combs
  • Wooden blocks and beads
  • Pinecones, nuts, and sticks
  • Dry pasta
Two paper people decorated with playdough swimming suits sitting on paper summer playdough mats surrounded by playdough and small play tools.

Supplies you can use with your summer playdough invitation

From garden clippings to smooth sea glass, over the years I’ve found quite a few invitation accessories you can explore to create the perfect “kit” for summer playdough play…

  • Googley eyes
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Toothpicks
  • Nuts and bolts
  • Ribbon and yarn
  • Scrap fabric
  • Buttons
  • Pom poms
  • Rocks and pebbles
  • Smooth-edge sea glass
  • Seashells
  • Twigs, leaves, and seeds

For more summer activities your little ones will enjoy, create an ocean sensory bin and make the cutest (floating!) baby beluga from an egg carton. visit our Go on a bug hunt with our free printable insect scavenger hunt or take our free printable seaside scavenger hunt to the beach!

For kids who enjoyed the design elements of this project, try more invitations to play with texture and unique supplies with our hammered nature process art, DIY veggie-stamped market totes, or scrap stamp shape collages.

*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Amazon, Etsy, or Woodpeckers Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click through to make a purchase we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!

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Amanda E.

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.


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