I’ve always loved those detailed fairy houses that kids (and grown-ups!) craft from found items in the woods. Veronika is too young for it, but here’s an activity that’s suitable for a toddler and a precursor to that kind of imaginative play down the road.
First up was a quick sortie into nature to gather all the sticks we could find. She helped collect a handful, and a few tiny pinecones, too.
Inside, I wanted to fill the bottom of a shoebox with play dough, which would be the base for all the “trees” in our forest. I did have play dough on hand, but it was in vivid shades of purple and blue and I wanted something more realistic. Here’s a quick recipe that literally takes 5 minutes and cooks up like a charm:
In a saucepan, combine 3/4 cup water, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon oil. Heat over medium heat, until warm, but not boiling.
Meanwhile, stir together 1 cup flour and 1/4 cup salt. Add the flour mixture to the hot water and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture pulls from the sides of the pan and is no longer sticky.
Let cool on wax paper. Once cool enough to handle, pat into the bottom of a shoe box. Now we arranged all our little sticks like trees!
We added Veronika’s Duplo people to be the little forest inhabitants. She loved that they left footprints behind in the play dough!
She also liked rearranging the sticks in various patterns, or scooping up bits of play dough with the sticks as shovels.
This was a great activity for engaging the senses and the imagination.