Discover: Three Playdough Turtle Play Invitations for Kids

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, patterns, and stamping discovery for some baby turtle playdough sensory play. What’s not to love, right?

Two egg carton and playdough turtles sitting on a paper pond with rocks and bark against a green background

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!

For more fun playdough activities, make a fairy forest with nature supplies, beat the heat with a summer swim playdough invitation, or start up your own playdough donut bakery!

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 Woodpeckers Crafts and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*


  • 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)


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

Simple Kids Playdough Turtle Play Setup Ideas:

Playdough Turtle Play Invitation A: Make Turtles

Layout a few balls of play dough, a 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.

Egg carton and playdough turtles sitting on a white background.

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!

An egg carton and playdough turtle sitting on a white background.

Playdough Turtle Play Invitation B: Stamp a Turtle Shell

Using the same natural materials or simple household objects you used in the last exercise, you can invite kids to create patterns on turtle 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.

Our turtle playdough mat sitting on a light blue background next to stamping supplies

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.

Turtle Playdough Invitation 3: Build a Turtle 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.

Two egg carton and playdough turtles sitting on a paper pond with rocks and bark against a green background

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.

Two egg carton and playdough turtles sitting on a paper pond with rocks and bark against a green background

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 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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