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Forest Putty Camping Treats

  • Age: 0 to 8+
  • Time: 1 hour+
  • Materials: forest putty (homemade playdough) or mud, objects from nature

Forest putty (Tinkergarten's name for playdough that we let kids take outside to blend and create with) is one of our favorite play materials for activating the senses and inspiring imagination play. Add a spice or two to your batch of forest putty, take it outside and let it inspire some camping pretend play.

The Guide

Make forest putty: Follow our easy recipe to make your own homemade play dough. To activate the sense of smell and the imagination, add a pinch of spice, such as cocoa powder, cinnamon or vanilla extract to your dough.


Build a “fire”: Collect a few sticks and say, “Do you think we could use these sticks to build our own pretend fire?” Work together to gather and arrange sticks. Try out one of these campfire types or create your own design. Read more about this activity here.


Explore forest putty: Show your child the forest putty and spend some time exploring it with hands and with all the senses. What shapes can your child make by squishing and rolling it between their hands and fingers? How does the forest putty smell?


Invite play: Wonder aloud how you might use the forest putty to make treats to roast over your campfire. Welcome any ideas your child shares and work together to collect materials and create together. Try out some of these favorite forest putty camping “treats” too:

  • Marshmallows: Model rolling a piece of forest putty between the palms of your hands to form a ball. Find a long stick and insert into the ball of dough.
  • S’mores: Collect pieces of bark, flat rocks and/or leaves and use the “ingredients” as pretend chocolate and graham crackers. Smoosh the nature items and forest putty together to make s’mores.
  • Hot dogs: Roll a ball of dough between your hands or against a fall surface until it stretches out like a snake. Kids can poke a stick through the middle of the hot dog lengthwise to roast over their fire. What objects from nature can your child use to make a bun, ketchup or other condiments?

Why is this activity great for kids?

The open-endedness of forest putty lends itself to a sense of wonder that inspires both experimentation and imagination. Whenever kids do such tactile work with putty, they develop their senses. Kids also develop fine motor control in their hands as they connect objects and squeeze, mold or shape the dough.

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