Play dough Garden Centre: Pretend Play

We have been enjoying this beautiful sunshine with an outdoor pretend play garden centre
mud play dough garden imaginative play
Following on from the garden party we had last week, we already had lots of silk flowers, little flower pots and packets of seeds all ready and waiting to be played with. We found a watering can, a shop till, shopping basket and some black beans to represent seeds.
Then Cakie helped me make a new batch of play dough to represent MUD! We followed our chocolate play dough recipe to make it a lovely brown colour and used it to fill up the flower pots with!
how to make mud play dough
The girls then played in lots of different ways with all the materials and engaged in some gorgeous shopping role-play. We visited a real garden centre last week and so it was quite fresh in their minds and a much more tangible experience to be able to re-enact in imaginative play.
There was plenty of flower arranging in the mud play dough flower pots, and because it was so soft it was really easy to push them in and pull out again. These were played with and rearranged plenty of times!
We found some flowers and leaves from the garden and added those into the mix too for another sensory dimension.
Cakie was very keen to plant some seeds so she did lots of pretend planting of the black bean seeds from our sensory tub, pushing them into the mud dough! She has also planted lots of these in our real flower beds so it will be interesting to see if any bean plants grow!

Flowers all arranged and ready to sell!

“This one is for you Mummy!”

We took it in turns being the shop keeper and the customers and C. practised lots of new language related to buying and selling.

Pop wasn’t too clear about what was going on but enjoyed filling up the cash register and dinging the bell repeatedly! She loved playing with the flowers and play dough too and engaged at the sensory level.

Because of the weather we have been able to keep this up all week in the garden and it’s still very popular. An idea for extension is to introduce some role-play writing into the area, labelling seed packets or plant pots, writing receipts and making shop signs.

Learning Links:

  • literacy: role-play reading and writing, language development
  • maths: counting seeds and flowers, patterning, exploring capacity through filling and emptying
  • physical: fine motor development through rolling/ squashing/ pinching/ squeezing play dough
  • knowledge and understanding of the world: talking about garden centres, flowers, seeds, growing, life cycles, plants, selling, money etc
  • creativity: imaginative play, taking on a role/ character and remaining in it during play

Cakie: 3 years 6 months
Pop: 2 years


  1. says

    What a beautiful day, and I just love the mud play dough idea. You do such a great job with imaginative play, Anna. My kids would love to move in with you…any chance you’d like to take on 2 more girls?

  2. says

    Such great ideas, am def going to revisit then when my little one is a bit bigger. I find it so hard to keep her attention at anything currently, she is 14mmths, any ideas? This week I took water play outside, she was interested for about 5mins, play dough, no interest at all! Think I might be trying too hard!
    Love your blog x

  3. says

    Ohhhh chocolate playdough 😀 my favourite. We haven’t used it as mud for planting but J today found ours from previously and has been creating mud monsters and aliens which has been great fun for him