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Fill a tiny forest with your own enchanting set of DIY woodland fairy peg dolls for creative small-world play. With a kid-friendly crafting process that encourages creative reuse and imaginative storytelling, this activity is sure to be a hit with fairy-lovers of all ages, from start to finish!
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Spring came late this year, but it arrived with an astonishing surprise. Back behind our shed among a group of tall pines, a frolic of fairies has taken up residence. We’ve been exchanging (very) small notes, and they’ve indicated they’ll be with us through October, watching over the woods and waterways surrounding the neighborhood.
Press play for a magical glimpse of our fairy peg dolls in the garden…
Meet our Woodland Fairy Family…
Through our correspondence, this tightly-knit fairy family has shared quite a bit about themselves, so now *I* get to introduce them to you, and post a few of the family portraits they’ve left for me (with their approval)…
Up first are the wildflower fairies – Anemone, Hepatica, and Primrose. They’ve been working very hard lately, convincing the woodland flowers to pop up out of the nice cozy dirt, stretch their leggy stems, and bloom. They spend the summer flinging wild seeds into the wind, directing pollinator traffic, and generally tending to their wild gardens.
Next, meet Sequoia the wood sprite, Cedar Wing the pinecone pixie, Hornwort our fairy of the moss, fungi, & lichen, and Hawthorn the leaf sprite. These four work together cultivating and sustaining the woodland growth – from the forest floor to the tip-top of the highest tree!
And now we’ve come to our smallest fairy visitors – but don’t let their size fool you…these two may have the most important jobs of all. Often found gathering nuts, berries, and seeds from the hedges and brush, Bramble is a fairy of the thicket who’s in charge of making sure the woodland wildlife has an abundant supply of food.
And last but not least, Dewdrop, our water nymph, watches over the lakes, streams, and even the puddles. These two love making a little mischief, and a stroll through your backyard in the early morning will give you an idea of their late-night shenanigans…dew and scattered seeds, and pollen dust everywhere!
For more charming fairy activities, flit over to the tutorials for our fairy greenhouse seed starters, cardboard toadstool gnome home (that doubles as a fairy nightlight!), or artfully autumnal magic wand.
To make your own DIY woodland fairy peg dolls you’ll need:
Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains Woodpeckers Crafts, Etsy, Blick Art Materials, and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*
- Our free printable peg doll fairy wing and hat templates
- Faux botanical bits, felt flower pieces, or other decorative art, craft, and nature supplies
- Iridescent nail polish or a glue stick and cellophane (like this kind)
- Watercolors (I used this opaque kind)
- Mod Podge
Safety note: Making these for a household where there are kids under 5? We recommend leaving the faux flower bits off and sticking to fairy wings and felt hats. Also, be sure to use super glue (like gorilla glue) or something equally as strong to hold on the wings.
How to Make Fairy Peg Dolls – DIY Instructions:
- Paint your peg dolls
We started by painting our fairy peg dolls different skin tones with watercolors (as shown in the tutorial for our diverse DIY peg dolls). It only takes about 5 minutes to be dry to the touch so you can quickly move on to painting the rest of the peg doll.
We painted the bodies of our peg dolls with acrylic paints. Our particular color palette was inspired by colors we’ve observed in the woodlands, but you can choose your very own favorite forest shades.
I wanted our fairy peg dolls to be extra durable and also have a nice shine, so I added a coat of Mod Podge. I used Mod Podge specifically because it fully dries in about fifteen minutes, but you can use any finish if you prefer!
- Cut out your fairy wings
I spent FOREVER looking for the perfect recycled supply to use for our fairy wings. I wanted something that was translucent, could hold its shape, and wouldn’t have sharp edges when cut. It turns out, that a plastic water or milk jug (I used the gallon size to cut all my sets of wings) is just the thing! Start by cutting apart your water jug on each side.
Using our free printable fairy wing templates (or your own hand-drawn wings) trace a set of wings onto one of your water jug pieces. I used a permanent marker, then cleaned the edges with a bit of nail polish remover afterward to erase any leftover pen marks. Cut out your fairy wings with scissors.
- Add shimmer to your fairy wings (optional)
When I picture fairy wings, I imagine them to have a pearly shimmer – much like dragonfly wings. Though I kept most of our wings plain for simplicity’s sake, I had some leftover cellophane from a gift, and thought I’d experiment with it. I glued a square to a pair of butterfly wings with a glue stick, let dry, then trimmed around the wings.
Though it looks FANTASTIC, it was a bit fussy, and instead of trying to work with the cellophane, I’m going to try painting them with some iridescent nail polish next time – a much easier process for kids (and you!).
- Make the hats for your peg doll fairies using felt, faux florals, or other nature supplies
Using our fairy hat templates (or drawing your own simple quarter-circle shapes) trace and cut out the pieces for your felt fairy hats. Roll into a cone, and glue along the edge with a hot glue gun.
To give our woodland fairies their own style and flair, we added decoration with small clippings from old faux flowers, leaves, and greenery. This is a fabulous way to recycle those dusty old faux flowers (something you can almost ALWAYS find at thrift stores or grab for free from a neighborhood marketplace).
- Glue the hats to your peg dolls and play!
The last step is to add the hats (or other headwear) onto your peg dolls – using one small dot of hot glue at both the back and front of each hat. We decided it would be more interesting if some of our peg dolls had creative variations on hats, and found that an upside-down plastic faux bloom, acorn, and pair of little wired faux stamens make the cutest fairy chapeaux!
Ways to use your DIY fairy peg dolls for learning and play
Our set of handmade fairies was created for use as an outdoor play tool to encourage creative nature exploration. Here are some ideas to inspire you to use them in creative ways…
- GO ON A FAIRY SCAVENGER HUNT. I took extra care to create a set of durable fairy dolls that could be used outside and would withstand a rinsing if need be, so these fairies can be placed just about anywhere in the backyard. Which makes them perfect for a little fairy scavenger hunt! Hide them under bushes, behind a flower pot, or even in the branches of a tree. Especially for little ones who may not be thrilled at the prospect of outdoor playtime, have a fear of backyard wildlife, or get bored with independent small world play, this little game is a great distraction from their dislikes/fears/boredom.
- DREAM UP A COLLABORATIVE FAIRY-THEMED STORY. For a simple creative play exercise, you can grab a couple of pixie peg dolls and a simple prop or two (pinecones and leaves, a miniature toy, etc.) and invite your kiddo to start a story. Need a prompt? You can use our fairy story and names as a springboard.
- BUILD YOUR FAIRIES A HABITAT. Building a woodland fairy habitat is one of those sensory or STEAM-centered play activities that is great for an afternoon in the yard OR a rainy day inside. You can use recycled supplies, cardboard boxes, a flower pot, or nature finds to build a woodland-inspired home, fairy garden, or forest habitat for your peg doll fairy family. Our fairy forests are a lovely example of simple habitat-building.
*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 Blick Art Materials, 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!