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Eco Dough Nature Invitation

This art invitation is a great way to incorporate natural materials into play. If you have not included loose parts into your Eco Dough sessions, you are in for a treat! Something magical happens when you introduce real things from the outside world into your child’s play time. The creativity and connections that spring forth organically are wonderful.


Eco Dough

Natural elements (twigs, leaves, pods, acorns, stones…)

Bendy wire

Cut-up plastic straws

Mini craft sticks

Wooden beads

Small rolling pin


Grab a basket and take a nature walk. In the woods. In your neighborhood. At your local park. In your own backyard. Scan your surroundings and pick up the leaves, sticks, pods, and stones that speak to you and place them in your basket. You don’t need to live in the woods to make this happen. Look at all of the autumn treasures we found in our urban neighborhood.

When you set up your nature dough invitation, presentation is key. Lay out the natural elements so your little ones have time and space to be inspired.

You also might want to create a tray of loose parts. We placed cut-up plastic straws, colorful bendy wire, mini craft sticks, wooden beads, a small rolling pin, and a pair of child sized scissors on our wooden tray.


This is an art invitation, so the idea is to present the materials and let the child lead the way. My daughter started with a small tree branch and small balls of each color of Eco Dough.


As she started to create her dough tree, she incorporated some of the foraged leaves into her dough.

After her tree was “finished”, she created some sculptural forms with balls of dough, bendy wire, and cut-up plastic straws. I love how the straws become little bud vases for her plant pieces.

Next she experimented with building taller structures with her loose parts. She was most excited by these towers.

In between executing her next big idea, she played around with the pinecone from her basket. Check out the cool tracks the pinecone left in the dough.

 Her next big idea was ANIMALS. First a lion.

Then when she took her lion apart, she noticed that the prints left from the loose parts looked just like a bunny, so she added ears.

 Speaking of prints…

And for her grand finale, I give you… Art on a Yellow Leaf!




About the Author

Arielle Goddard is an artist, designer, and educator who has been teaching and developing art programs in Los Angeles for 20 years. She is passionate about bringing art to underserved communities through her work with non-profit organizations.

Arielle founded ART CAMP in 2015 with the belief that art is for everyone and that creativity is a pathway to connection. When she isn’t leading ART CAMP Pop-Ups, Parties, and Workshops out of her vintage camper, Arielle is sharing fresh, elevated, Art + Craft + DIY projects online at,,, and Her most recent venture is the ART CAMP BOX - a packaged ART CAMP experience for two.

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