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How to Make Tree Trolls #31DaysOfLearning

Today on 31 Days of Learning, we have the wonderful Ali from Incredibusy to give us a great idea for a kids’ activity. We have over the years, tried all sorts of fun ways to get kids out into the garden, or the park – or the woods – and the idea of making Tree Trolls has been one of my classic ‘WINS’ – for some reason, the idea of being a bit ‘naughty’ and leaving these little creations around in the trees REALLY appeals to kids, from toddler to teens.

We have used natural air drying clay on many occasions, as this is a quick way of getting more reluctant crafters into the project – no waiting around, making your own clay, when you can buy it (go for the air drying clay which has no nasty itchy fibres) – however, if you want to extend the activity – I’ve found that making salt dough as part of the fun, can lead to a real ‘ownership’ of the project:

  • Make the salt dough,
  • Design the tree trolls, and
  • Tell the story – job done!

If your kids love hands on crafts – why not have a go at making hama bead coaster after your Tree Trolls too?

Learn how to make tree trolls!

So – let’s look at Making Salt Dough Tree Trolls, having fun and at the same time ticking the boxes of two STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and the Arts) practices:

  • The Science: making dough with salt, water and flour for the tree trolls), and
  • The Arts: designing and sculpting the salt dough trolls, and finding fun places to hide them).

Have you ever made salt dough? It’s quite amazing from a science perspective – the simple mixing of ingredients you can find at home in your own kitchen cupboards, thrown together – can make a craft material that will go on to give so much of its OWN joy!

Learn how to make tree trolls!

What can you make with DIY Salt Dough?

Whether making salt dough beads, or in this case, little characters with their own personalities – salt dough is more or less a low cost craft.

We call these little characters ‘tree trolls’ and this honestly makes them far more exciting!

Before you get started, make sure you have everything you need for your Tree Trolls – go on a nature hunt, look for feathers, acorns, pine cones, and lots of sticks if you want them to have arms and legs!

We love that everything is biodegradable – even if you use the aforementioned Air Drying Clay – this means you can eventually place your Salt Dough Tree Trolls outside in the garden or the woods, for them to let nature decay them – hey, that may even be a bit of a science lesson right there too!

Salt dough recipe

Learn how to make tree trolls!
  • 1 part salt
  • 2 parts plain flour
  • half to one part water
  • optional – some natural food colouring. If you are feeling ambitious -you could go as far as making your own dough dye with beetroot!
    Hey – experiment, and have some fun.

Instructions for making your Tree Trolls

We mixed the ingredients into a bowl, keep mixing and squeezing until it forms a moist dough.

Now you are ready to start creating your characters – and this really is up to you and the kids, use your own imagination – that can be fun.

31 Days of Learning.
Note: Shoot location: fforest, during the fforest gather workshops.

Smaller children may find a more 2D approach easier – almost ‘drawing’ the faces onto the dough, simple lines for eyes, mouth – add feathers, and lots of little sticks for their hair.

Or make it more observational – give them little mirrors to check out their own faces – look at how the nose protrudes, and make those eyebrows BIG!

Whatever you do, I know you will enjoy it – and totally the best part is secreting the tree trolls’ faces amongst the branches and undergrowth, where they will surprise and charm anyone coming across them, and will gradually find themselves being swallowed back into nature as the elements wear away at them over time.

Lovely. But watch out?!!? 😂🥴

We would love to see what you create – do tag us on Instagram where you will find our new account use the hashtag #31DaysofLearning as we are joining in with KiddyCharts creative STEAM project this month.

Aren’t these just ADORABLE! In a weird – trollish, kind of way 😉. If you like this outdoor activity, why not check out some of the other ideas we have on the site too?

Outdoors ideas for kids

Here are a few more ideas to get you out and about with the kids...!

Don’t forget to check out our newsletter with lots more great ideas, we only send out weekly.

See you soon,


Ali Clifford has been a friend to KiddyCharts for many years, as an ethical and sustainable blogger, and mother to two teenage boys.

At the same time Ali has been working to build a creative, social media management roster of likeminded clients such as shoes and Earth Conscious natural deodorant, and also her client Safia Minney MBE with whom she has worked as publicist for her award-winning book Slave to Fashion, and Ali is now a consultant for Safia’s new venture REAL sustainability centre.

In a previous life, Ali graduated art school and went on to head up the Design Department at a leading UK department store for many years. Ali writes at and oversees her kids’ blog – still arty and crafting.

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