Exploring Nature through Playdough

Invitation to play natural playdough

Use the wonderful learning resources surrounding us in the natural world to create a fun and creative invitation to play!

EYFS Areas Developed:

  • Understanding of the World: explores and talks about natural and found objects
  • Expressive Arts & Design: explore and take interest in texture
  • Physical: develop precision of fine motor skills through pressing, patting, pulling and pushing

If you look around you’ll spot an abundance of fantastic resources to bring into your home, nursery or classroom. Full of colour, texture and interesting shapes, natural resources can be used in so many ways to promote learning for little ones. These properties make them so tactile and perfect for hands on learning.

I made up a batch of playdough using my usual recipe, only I omitted food colouring and substituted half of the plain flour with wholemeal flour. I chose wholemeal flour as it is grainy and I feel it adds a more rustic, natural feel to the dough.



I then set to work finding natural items to surround my dough. A quick trip to the garden with my little helper and I had all I needed.

I used:

  • leaves
  • flower heads
  • smooth pebbles
  • a pinecone
  • sunflower seeds
  • twigs
  • pistachio shells (these were washed from a snack we had a few days ago)


I put it all together and took the activity outside where Sophia (2.3yrs) began to explore. I also provided a wooden table mat for her to take dough out and pat it down as she pleased.


At first Sophia explored the natural items around the dough. I expected her to dive straight in with sticking the bits and bobs into the dough but she actually really enjoyed naming and touching all of the items first. Then she got to work…


Patting and pressing, pushing and sticking…




Sophia loved making little piles of dough and experimenting with pushing all of the items into it. She started making “cakes” for myself and her little brother by decorating them with the flower heads.


She enjoyed making imprints with the pinecone or “my hedgehog” as it’s known in our house!


Next time we go walking we will be on the hunt for new natural resources to use with our wholegrain playdough!


If you enjoyed this activity take a look at my other PLAYDOUGH activities.

Or have a peek at my PLAYDOUGH Pinterest board for more ideas!

Follow Beth @ Wings and Roots’s board Playdough on Pinterest.



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