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Pretend Tea Party with Natural Items

Pretend Tea Party Play Idea

Set up a pretend tea party play in the backyard where the kids can make a mess, use their imaginations, and get creative exploring items found in nature.

Remember how much fun it was to play “tea party” was when you were little?  Pouring and measuring and serving cups of “tea” to your friends and parents, or to your dolls and teddy bears?  I always find that kids are happiest when they’re engaged in pretend play, and the hooligans always seem to have the most fun with non-toys – undefined items and “loose parts” that can be anything they want them to be.  Items like this spark the imagination and foster creativity.

Pretend Tea Party Play Idea

For our tea party today, I gathered up a bunch of natural items that we keep on hand for learning and play.  Toddlers and preschoolers love exploring items found in nature, so in our backyard play area we always have baskets and buckets filled with stones, sticks, pinecones, shells and artificial flowers. The children play with these items almost every day in our sandbox and playhouse.

pinecones and stones in a bowlpinecones and stones in a bowl

I realize that artificial flowers aren’t “natural” items but the hooligans love them.  We use them in many of our activities, and they seemed like a perfect colourful addition to our theme today.

pretend tea party with stones, shells and pineconespretend tea party with stones, shells and pinecones

I set our 6 dollar thrift shop table in the middle of the yard, and topped it with a set of cheery plastic bowls, plates and cups that we use for outdoor play.

Then, I set out several more bowls and baskets filled with our natural elements.  It all looked very inviting!

Tea time!

backyard tea party playbackyard tea party play

The girls spent ages exploring all the goodies on the table, and dishing up bowls of “soup” and “drinks” for each other.

backyard tea party activity backyard tea party activity

Crunchy, pokey pinecones, smooth beach stones and sea shells were the perfect ingredients today.


Of course they thought to add in a few extras of their own: grass and leaves from around the lawn and garden.

toddler tea party with items from naturetoddler tea party with items from nature

There are no fancy toys required for this kind of play.  Just happy kids, busy hands and a child’s imagination. If you ask the me that’s the best kind of play of all. And I do think the hooligans would agree.


 Looking for more imaginative outdoor play ideas for your kids?  Check out:

Fairy Mud

2-Ingredient Cloud Dough

2-Ingredient Ghost Mud

Sensory Coffee Shop

Fairy Soup

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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.