This adorable baby turtle play dough invitation only uses a few basic materials and encourages kids to explore nature, patterns and forms! | via barley & birch
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Discover, Make

Discover: Three Baby Turtle Playdough Invitations

Tiny turtles everywhere! Baby animals are where it’s at this week (take a gander at our brood of egg carton cup ducklings!) and it seems that pond life is too. In keeping with our themes, we decided to combine a little nature hunt, 3-D forms, pattern & stamping discovery for some baby turtle playdough sensory play. What’s not to love, right?

This adorable baby turtle play dough invitation only uses a few basic materials and encourages kids to explore nature, patterns and forms! | via barley & birch
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With just a few different simple setups, hours of open-ended learning and play are to be had! We used everyday household, combined with homemade playdough and recycled supplies for each easy activity. To take your turtle play to the next level, you can even create a recycled cardboard play pet tank!

To create your own turtle play dough invitation you’ll need:

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

BASIC SUPPLIES:

  • Playdough (I love this Clean Dough that uses plant-based color! When I have the time and supplies, I also like to make my own using this recipe).
  • Natural found materials like sticks, pinecones or rocks for stamping patterns
  • Other pattern-stamping materials (shape stamps, blocks, cardboard tubes, or other household items)

OPTIONAL SUPPLIES:

  • Egg Carton Cups  for turtle shells
  • Paint and a paint brush to paint your shells
  • Our printable Turtle Playdough Mats 
  • White cardstock and a sheet protector or self-laminating sheet for the mats

SETUP IDEAS:

Invitation A: Make Turtles

Lay out  a few balls of play dough, basket of natural materials, and a stack of egg carton cups (they make the perfect baby turtle shells!). This invitation allows kids to build their own turtles and explore the forms & shapes they’re made of.

This adorable baby turtle play dough invitation only uses a few basic materials and encourages kids to explore nature, patterns and forms! | via barley & birch
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You may also want to lay out some pictures of different kinds of turtles. Sea turtles for instance, look very different from pond turtles. I absolutely love the different variations created in these little turtles – so much personality!

This adorable baby turtle play dough invitation only uses a few basic materials and encourages kids to explore nature, patterns and forms! | via barley & birch
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Invitation B: Stamp a Shell

Using the same nature materials or simple household objects you used from the last exercise, you can invite kids to create patterns on turtles shells. Download and print our turtle playdough mats, or let them begin by building their own turtle shapes – flat this time to create a stamping surface.

Use or free printable turtle play dough mats for texture and pattern sensory play! | via barley & birch
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It’s so much fun to see what patterns they come up with, and watch them discover the unique imprints common supplies can make in the dough.

Invitation 3: Build a habitat

The last invitation is probably my favorite, as it provides so much opportunity for creative storytelling and imagination. Again, you can use the same basket of natural supplies as the basis for this – inviting kids to build a home for their play dough turtles.

This adorable baby turtle play dough invitation only uses a few basic materials and encourages kids to explore nature, patterns and forms! | via barley & birch
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I started by cutting a simple pond shape. We glued sticks to a halved cardboard tube to create a little “log” and then just added bits & pieces as we talked about the places turtles like to live and what would make a nice home for them.

This adorable baby turtle play dough invitation only uses a few basic materials and encourages kids to explore nature, patterns and forms! | via barley & birch
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In addition to discussing habitats, this is a wonderful occasion to talk about the differences between wild and domestic animals, or even wildlife conservation. You can even combine these turtle activities with our egg carton cup floating whale (you seriously have to see this!) for a sea ecology lesson.

If this easy habitat lesson is a hit, you’ll definitely want to check out our tutorial for making your own nature explorer’s kit from a shoebox. It is a fabulous follow-up that encourages science-based observation and investigation.

So there you have it – three fun invitations from just a few things! It couldn’t have been simpler and I can’t wait to do it again!


*A note about Amazon 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. 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!

A collection of baby turtle playdough invitations! Encourage kids to explore nature, patterns and forms with just a few basic materials. | via barley & birch
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A collection of baby turtle playdough invitations! Encourage kids to explore nature, patterns and forms with just a few basic materials. | via barley & birch
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About Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help families discover their creative potential and be inspired to make the world a better place through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. When not playing with ideas, designs and projects for barley & birch, Amanda enjoys working as a modern art curator and managing her own small design business.

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