Pine Cone Forest Small World Winter Activity

Kids can make a small world forest with pine cones and play dough. This winter themed activity supports fine motor and sensory skills through imaginative play. 

play dough small world play with pine cones and figurines

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Pine cones and play dough go together perfectly in this winter small world activity.

Here's why they make such a great combination!

Pine cones

  • Pine cones are fun to collect on a nature walk, but they can also be purchased online. 
    • They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. 

  • The cones are sturdy and very versatile, making them easy to use in different ways.
    • It's a good idea to clean natural cones before using in kids activities.

Play dough

Play dough is smooth in contrast to the prickly feel of the pine cones, giving texture and dimension to the pretend play forest.

The texture and color of pine cones and play dough together provide a variety of sensory experiences for early learners.


Pine cone small world forest                 

A small forest is easy to create with pine cones.

  • The pine cone trees can be arranged in different ways on the play dough 'forest floor'.

The cones resemble cute little trees. They can easily be supported, and moved around, in a play dough base.

Supplies for a winter small world

Along with play dough and pine cones, you'll need a variety of small parts to complete your small world scene.

                                                                                      Supplies for a pine cone sensory tray activity


These small parts can be items you have on hand such as:

How to make a winter small world scene 


Roll play dough with a rolling pin in a kids sensory activity


Prepare a base for the wooded area by flattening the play dough to the desired thickness with a kids rolling pin, or simply by pressing the dough with fingers and hands.

Pressing with the hands is great for strengthening fine motor muscles!

  • The base doesn't have to be perfectly flat - it can be thick and lumpy in places.


Pine cones and play dough small world forest activity

Sprinkle paper snowflakes from the hole punch onto the trees. You don't have to glue the snowflakes - they can be removed and sprinkled over the trees and base again.

Roll small pieces of foil to make icy shapes.

 Kids small world forest winter craft and activity with pine cones


Add animals or figures to the small world play. These little wooden characters look cozy with their chenille stem scarves!

The character on the left is building a snowman!

You can decorate the trees with paper confetti or biodegradable glitter. Place a craft foam star or play dough star on the top.


 Kids winter theme small world play


Arrange - and rearrange! - the pine cone trees, ice, animals, and snowballs.

Kids can explore winter in the woods with this simple pine cone trees hands-on activity.

  • For convenience, use a sealed plastic container for the activity so it can be easily stored, and the play dough will not dry out. The size of the container will depend on the amount of materials you want to store.

  • Alternately, when play time is over, the trees and accessories can be removed from the play dough base in order for the play dough to be stored in a sealed container.


preschool winter small world play


Visit our Winter Season on Pinterest for more crafts and activities


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