Invitation to Play: Fall Forest

Welcome to day two of our five-day series: Fall Invitations to Play!  I am teaming up with four other talented kid bloggers to bring you 25 fall-themed invitations to play that should provide you with enough inspiration for setting up your own open-ended play prompts to carry you right through the season. I’ve linked my co-hosts’ amazing invitations at the end of this post- be sure to check them all out when you are finished here! If you are just now joining us for the series, you might want to read my first post HERE which includes an introduction to creating invitations to play if you aren’t familiar with them, including links to some great resources on the subject.

Invitation to Play: Fall Forest

Today’s Invitation: Fall Forest for Pretend Play


This invitation is an extension of our recent forest-themed invitation to play with loose parts. My twins enjoyed it so much that I decided to create a fall version to incorporate our new knowledge about the changing seasons- we have been reading lots of books about autumn from the library and getting super excited about the impending cooler weather and colorful leaves.

Invitation to Play: Fall Forest

To create this invitation, I first whipped up a batch of home made play dough and added several teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice (thanks for the inspiration, Fun At Home With Kids). I then flattened the play dough in a wooden crate that normally holds building blocks- this became the base of our invitation.  To this, I added a basket of fall “trees” which are actually fabric leaves cut from random fall floral picks and stuck into clothespins. They were thick enough that I did not have to use any glue to hold them in, which means I can use both the leaves and clothespins again down the road.  Finally, I added floral marbles in fall colors, faux acorns, peg people from  Mama May i, and fall leaf sequins.  I stuck one tree in the play dough as a suggestion, and there you have it!

Ways Children Might Use the Materials

  • Stick the “trees” into the play dough to create a forest play scene
  • Smush the loose parts (marbles, acorns, sequins) into the dough to make pathways or other features in the play scene, or just make designs
  • Use the people and accessories to engage in dramatic play and/or storytelling


True to the nature of an open-ended play invitation, although the items are arranged in a way that suggests a possible activity (the lone tree stuck in the playdough), the children will be allowed to play with the items in whatever way they choose.  Depending on how the children interact with the materials, this prompt encourages imaginative play, fine motor skill development, language development, and sensory exploration.

*Note: Although I wasn’t planning on presenting this one to my kids just yet, they woke up early from nap and ended up joining in the fun after all. I don’t have photos, but they played with this invitation for two hours, which is amazing for 2.5 year-olds! They created the forest and added more “guys” from their play figures collection, and told me they had made a dance party.  Hilarious!

I hope you enjoyed today’s invitation to play, and please check back tomorrow for another fun idea.  If this is your first time visiting, you might enjoy the other posts in this series:

1. Pom Pom Apple Tree

2. Create a Fall Forest

3. Fall Fine Motor Activity

4. Magnetic Fall Tree

5. Fall Play Dough with Tree Block Stamps

Now don’t forget to stop by the other participating blogs and check out their wonderful invitations, too!

Pumpkin Themed Sensory Invitation to Playby My Nearest and Dearest

Decorate Pinecones for Fall by Buggy and Buddy

Fall Play Dough by Fantastic Fun and Learning

Glowing Discovery Bottles by Play Trains!

The Homemade Play Dough Recipe Book

If you love play dough as much as we do, I highly recommend that you check out The Homemade Play Dough Recipe Book written by Cathy James of NurtureStore. It is a super creative e-book packed with amazing ideas regarding all things play dough, including:

  • all the recipes you need for the activities in the book including non-cook and cooked play dough, gluten-free dough, salt dough, modeling dough, and real bread.
  • ideas for 52 weeks of loose parts play, in a printable poster format
  • a whole year of play dough activities, arranged seasonally. There’s an idea for every week of the year including sensory and imaginary play, storytelling, art ideas, small worlds, math activities, reading and writing ideas.

The Homemade Play Dough Recipe Book by Cathy James (Nurturestore)



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  2. This looks like hours for fun. I can totally see my guy playing with this.

  3. I love the combination of materials here. My girls would love acting out stories with the peg people in the forest.

  4. So gorgeous, Stephanie! I love your little fall leaf trees!

  5. This looks wonderful. Funny enough my little guy is all about clothes pins right now. What a great way to make his own little forest. And I just made some yummy play doh!!

  6. I just love how open-ended this is and the materials are SO lovely. :)

  7. This looks like so much fun. I like the idea of using clothespins with the leaves. I think my little girl would love this.

  8. This is amazing! I love it. A wonderful idea, with lovely materials.

  9. Hi to every , as I am in fact keen of reading this web site’s post to be updated regularly.
    It consists of pleasant material.


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