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Dough Nature Portraits

Dough Nature Portraits Forest School Activities

We have always been a family that enjoys a woodland walk. Each season has something different to offer. There is always so much to discover and is a place that offers peace and calm. The fresh air and the open path ways are great for children to exercise their little legs and enjoy an hour or two of playing, climbing and discovery. 

Last night at gone midnight - 12.36am to be exact (you will have seen me posting about this on my Instagram) I was putting a little challenge together for Neve. I knew we would be venturing to the woods today. Here is what the note said - 

Dough Nature Portraits Forest School Activities

This activity was fabulous but there are a couple of very important points you must remember as we all have a duty of care for the woodlands and the animals that live there - 

1. You must use a salt free dough. Salt is extremely dangerous to animals and because of the volumes needed in dough, if any traces were to be left behind and digested by the animals it would result in them being very poorly. It has been reported that pets who have digested playdough made with salt have even been killed. At the bottom of this post we share with you a great, easy dough recipe that uses no salt. A recipe that is much safer to venture into the woods with and enjoy this activity.

2. Only collect Nature that you find already on the forest floor. Don't pick berries/leaves/sticks etc off the trees and bushes. It will be a good talking point on your walk and will help children respect and appreciate the woodland. 

3. Remember to take all the dough back with you. It easily removes from the tree trunks (see our video for the demo). Under no circumstances should they be left behind. Take a camera, use a photo or ipad to take photos to keep of your artwork. 

4. Take a child friendly woodland guide with you to help identify the berries, seeds and trees you come across. I have two amazing books to share with you and I highly recommend you adding the two of them to your children's book collections, they are suitable to use all year round:

Dough Nature Portraits Forest School Activities

The Woodland Book - Find me on Amazon - UK/US
It has been a long time since I was so excited and captivated by the wealth of imagery and facts jam packed in this book - all child friendly!
The book shares with us the seasons and how the woodlands change as the months pass by. It gives you Nature Walk challenges depending on the seasons whilst encouraging you to use your senses. It introduces animals and bugs that live in the woods and suggests activities such as a making a Woodland Journal. 
If there was one book I had to recommend it would be this one. You wont be disappointed!

Trees - Find me on Amazon - UK/US
This book opens your eyes to a world of Nature. Learn how to identify trees, discover how important they are for animals, people and the planet. The pictures are simply beautiful. Covering seeds, activities, animals, insects and much more.

Create a batch of dough using our special salt free recipe. I made it alone the night before, just so we were able to get up and go this morning. You may want to take the time to involve the children in the making process. If like me you are making the night before, make sure you store it in an air tight container. 

Dough Nature Portraits Forest School Activities

Go out on your walk and select a tree trunk to press your dough into. Break the batch up into smaller balls and roll them before flattening onto the tree. We found you didn't need to press too hard for the dough to stick well. We were cautious not to over press and we didn't want dough being left behind in the crevices. 

Once you have the dough flattened you have your canvas. Create portraits or patterns using the nature you have collected along the way on your walk. I would advise you to take a pot along with you to collect as you walk, just to make sure you have enough items when you come to creating. 

The batch created enough for around 6 pieces of art: 

Dough Nature Portraits Forest School Activities

Dough Nature Portraits Forest School Activities

Dough Nature Portraits Forest School Activities

With endless opportunities, this activity it is bound to captivate children of all ages. Perhaps they would like to create portraits of themselves, of a friend or if there is an event such as Halloween approaching they may want to create spooky monsters perhaps? 

Hand over the balls of dough and see what your children enjoy creating. Make sure there is enough for you to make one too. I always find that children love you creating and making alongside them. 

Lets take a look at the activity in action:

Remember to ask the children if they can name any of them items they have used in their portraits. If they are unsure, see if they can find the answers by using the books I mentioned above (and below again for your convenience:

Trees - Find on Amazon - UK/US
The Woodland Book - Find on Amazon - UK/US

Now for the Salt Free Dough Recipe:

You will need:
Plain Flour
Warm Water
Food colouring (optional - we left ours plain)
Mixing Bowl 

Measure out 2 cups of flour and empty them into the large mixing bowl. Stir in 3 tablespoons of oil. Get another cup of boiled water and add to the dough in parts, mixing and adding until you get the dough consistency needed. 

You will need to use your hands to continue to knead the dough together. When the dough is 'doughy' but doesn't stick to your hands at all, you have achieved the perfect consistency. 

We have also used this recipe using herbs and spices - 
Salt Free Play Dough

If you go on to do this activity do get in touch with us on the social media links below! We would love nothing more than to add your photos to the post to inspire others to get out with the children and create these super cute nature portraits.

Be sure not to miss anything from us by:

I always share things there first, and quite often some ideas don't always make the blog. So come and follow us.

We quite possibly have the best community group on Facebook. Looking for inspiration, advice? Want a place to share your ideas and activity set ups with like minded people?

See all our activities in action via our channel. We throw in a little family life too so you may just find out a little more about the family behind Learning an Exploring Through Play.

Dough Nature Portraits Forest School Activities

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Other posts to check out on Learning and Exploring Through Play:

I love you to pieces Suncatcher Card    Melted Snowman Family    Rainbow Streamer Craft

Recycled Valentines Crafts for Preschoolers    Recycled Valentines Crafts for Preschoolers    Sensory Winter Play for Preschoolers

Mark Making with Kinetic Sand    Plastic Easter Egg Art Ideas    Space Themed Sensory Play Small World
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