This post was contributed by Jaimi of The Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide.
Make Apple Trees for Preschool Learning Games & Play!
I have been wanting to try making cardboard tube apple trees for a more fall-themed learning experience in our home. They are pretty cute! After creating this post, I did a little search and found that the cardboard tree idea was shared by another blog as a craft activity, but I will share how I made mine into 7 Preschool learning games and play activities. Craft, art, fun and learning? I’m in!
Start collecting toilet paper roll tubes, paper towel tubes, or you can use paper bags or brown packing paper to roll up pieces into tube shapes. Cut two slits in the top of each tube about a quarter of an inch long on opposite sides of the top of the tube.
Using green construction paper, fold a piece into 4 parts (hamburger fold and then hotdog fold) and cut out a nice little ‘tree top’ shape to get 4 tops at one time. Cut as many tree tops as you have toilet paper rolls. I made a lot so that both of my children could play at once even if their learning objective was different. I created 7 learning and play activities that you can use with your children and these little trees.
Activity #1: Fine Motor Exercise and Practice Following Simple Directions
After you cut out the tree tops, your child can help you paint apples on them…or you can use “fall colors” to paint on different colored leaves. I saw this great fine motor painting activity and provided a clothespin pinching a pom pom as the paintbrush for my children to paint apples onto the tree tops. It was so easy to stamp on little circles to create apples.
When the tree tops had dried, I started slipping them into the tubes. That is what the slits are for! They fit snugly, which is nice for the next activity.
Activity #2: Pretend Play with Trees
The tree tops stay in the tubes very well, so they can be used in play and not just table learning. Adding the trees to a pretend play scenario can really enhance your child’s play experience. (That is one handy part about making a few extra trees…you have replacements, if needed!)
Activity #3: Shape Match
Simple shape cards attached to the trees with paper clips and an additional set of shape cards to match, show how simply these trees can be used to work on shape recognition with your little one. I created the second set of shape cards in a different color just to keep the “master” set separate and easy to find. My toddler enjoyed matching each shape card to its matching tree. This allowed me to check on which shapes she still needed to work on and which she had mastered. Try fewer trees for younger toddlers and more complex shapes for older kids.
Activity #4: Number Symbol Match
Keeping with the math theme, but enhancing this activity for older children, I cut out some acorn shapes from craft foam. (I have included a free printable template for you to use to make these cute little acorns on paper or foam. Just print them out and your child can color away to prepare them.) I used puffy fabric paint to write numbers on the acorns so it could be a tactile experience as well. It is helpful for toddlers to be able to see and feel the numbers.
Activity #5: Number Amount Match
For a young preschooler, activity #4 can be expanded to a number symbol-amount match game. I drew circles on paper pieces that were clipped to the trees. My child counted the circles on each paper, and then matched the appropriate numbered acorn to it. Place the trees out of number order to challenge an older preschooler.
Activity #6: Alphabet Match
I wrote a letter on a small piece of paper, clipped it to the tree, and then on an acorn wrote the matching letter (either uppercase, lower case or make two sets to practice both) to be the game piece. (You can use the acorn download from earlier for this game too.) Provide the acorns and trees to your child and they can match away with or without your help. (You can use a small number of trees to focus on a few letters at a time.) Match upper case to upper case, lower case to lower case, and then upper case to lower case-3 activities in one!
Activity # 7: Addition/Subtraction Game
Time for the young elementary kiddos. To turn these trees into a math fact matching game, I included another free download to print off and color-in squirrel shapes, if desired. Clip a number card to each tree (from the ones used in activities 4 and 5 above). On each squirrel, write a math fact. Your child can then match the math fact to its answer on the trees. You can provide some pom poms, real acorns, Legos or small rocks to use as manipulatives to help them figure it out.
There you have it! 7 Preschool learning games and play activities all with some simple cardboard tube trees perfect for Fall. For additional Fall-themed activities, check out my Thematic Activities page. Can you think of more ways to use these little trees for fun and learning? How about colors, sight words…these little trees are very versatile!
More Fun Learning Activities:
Jaimi is the mom of a 5-year old son and a 2-year old daughter. She also has twins on the way! She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education, taught preschool and cared for infants, toddlers and preschoolers while working in child care before having her own children. Her main mission is to motivate moms! On her blog, The Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide, she shares simple activities that teach, faith-based mom motivation, information about child development and quick tips all to help moms find the joy in motherhood.
OMGosh! I can’t believe all of the awesome Preschool learning games and play ideas that Jaimi came up with for these adorable trees. I would have just been happy with the cute craft as is, but she totally took to to another amazing level. Can’t wait to try it with my kids. Thanks, Jami!
If you like this, get lots more by signing up to get B-Inspired Weekly right in your inbox. And follow B-Inspired Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest!
I love to share at and find inspiration from these link ups!