There is something SO calming about working with playdough – even as an adult I find making and manipulating it incredibly satisfying. It’s always been one of my favorite rainy day go-to’s. Inspired by a rain-drenched afternoon in the backyard and a friends’ “Feather Forest” Instagram post, we came up with this paper straw and play dough fairy forest play invitation.
It’s a wonderful combination of natural sensory learning, creative nature play, and fine motor skill practice for young kiddos, and the end result looks like a tiny little forest – just magical! You can combine this activity with our shoebox nature explorer’s kit DIY for a day packed with outdoor investigation and little lessons in ecology.
After a long cold winter, and a chilly spring we had a warm weekend and EVERYTHING in the yard just popped! We had a beautiful Saturday, with major plans to spend a full summer Sunday outside, but Mother Nature surprised us with an hours-long rainstorm.
I’m all for throwing on slickers and boots and heading out in the rain, but the chill in the air had us feeling like staying cozy inside instead. So as a compromise, we ran outside and collected some things from the garden, then came back in to experiment with this natural playdough project…
To create your own paper straw and playdough fairy forest play invitation you’ll need:
- Playdough (we used this recipe to make our own, then dyed it with plant-based, homemade dyes – DIY coming this week!)
- Paper straws or rolled-up paper scraps/brown bags
- Clippings from the garden and other collected nature supplies
- Feathers or similar supplies
There really isn’t much set up for this, other than laying out the supplies. If you don’t have paper straws, you can do what we did and roll your own using white scrap paper and cut paper bags.
The wider the variety of natural items collected from the garden, the more interesting and sensory-filled this invitation will be. We cut lilacs, ferns, soft willow sprigs, pinecones and more for a playdough garden forest full of texture, color, and scents.
The process of pushing the paper straws into the playdough and filling them with foliage comes so naturally to kids.
We included some white feathers in our invitation to add even more interest and something super-soft to the touch. We thought they gave our garden forests a lovely, enchanted quality.
For more nature-inspired activities, be sure to check out our melted crayon butterflies, these kid-made, vegetable-stamped DIY Farmer’s Market totes, and our hammered nature process art project.