Building fine motor skills at the apple tree play dough table

As part of our fun with apples, I thought it would be a good time to set out our homemade red play dough and invite the children to practice their skill of rolling the play dough to make apples for our apple tree…

Apple Tree Playdough Table by Teach Preschool

I created a tree with bare branches out of tape on our magnet board. On top of the tree, I added some red homemade play dough (made and donated to us by one of our parents) and cut-up brown pipe cleaners (Chenille Stems)…

Apple Tree Playdough Table by Teach Preschool

The children used their hands to roll the dough into apples and then added the pipe cleaners for the stems. Once they had an apple ready to go, they found a spot on our tree to place the apple…

Apple Tree Playdough Table by Teach Preschool

Some of the children would stop by the table and stay for quite awhile rolling dough and making apples while others would stop by for just a few minutes and then move on…

Apple Tree Playdough Table by Teach Preschool

I loved how the apple tree naturally invited the children to work their hands to roll the play dough especially since rolling play dough into balls can be quite challenging for young children…

Apple Tree Playdough Table by Teach Preschool

We had all sizes and shapes of apples added to our tree by the end of the day…

Apple Tree Playdough Table by Teach Preschool

Including this extra large apple. I wouldn’t want to be standing under the tree when this apple falls off the branch

Apple Tree Playdough Table by Teach Preschool

And one of my students had the brilliant idea of bringing over our scales to weigh their play dough apples which added a new dimension of play to our apple tree table…

Apple Tree Playdough Table by Teach Preschool

And as you know, when one child comes up with a fun idea, more children will want to give it a try too…

Apple Tree Playdough Table by Teach Preschool

I never know where an idea will lead but it is always fun to watch my students take an idea and do something I wouldn’t have thought of…

Apple Tree Playdough Table by Teach Preschool

PS. You can read more about the Magnet Board being used for this activity here!

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By |2017-01-31T17:27:45+00:00September 23rd, 2013|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Paula Harrell September 23, 2013 at 7:27 am - Reply

    I love your idea for the apple tree! We are doing apples this week in my class too. I can’t wait to add this as one of the centers. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Learn + Play = PreK

  2. Sarah September 23, 2013 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    So much fun. I love when I am reminded how creative wee ones are – and it’s almost every day! All of the learning that happens in your classroom is inspiring

  3. Sara Stephens September 24, 2013 at 10:19 pm - Reply

    I just did this activity with my preschool classes today. It was a huge hit! The children asked to take home a few of the small apples they made for the tree. The apples turned into apple cookies and apple cake which they promptly took to the “Apple Orchard” dramatic play area that was set up.

    Deb, your blog has become a great consultant for me. I have been teaching preschool for over ten years now in some form and am so grateful to have stumbled onto your blog though pinterest because it has re-energized my teaching. I try to be as hands-on and creative as possible, but was feeling a little tired and bored and your blog has become my new friend. Thank you for all the perfectly age appropriate ideas!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 24, 2013 at 10:29 pm - Reply

      I am so thrilled to hear that Sara and love that your students (and that your encourage) went off in many different directions with their play dough apples! Loving it!!

  4. Tera October 2, 2013 at 11:07 am - Reply

    Love this idea! I am going to add leaf cookie cutters and make a fall tree.

    What kind of tape did you use?

    I love all of your ideas! They always come at the right time!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 3, 2013 at 12:20 am - Reply

      Hi Tera,
      I used a paper tape I purchased from our local school supply store but you can also find tape like this on amazon!

  5. Lynette J Yoes September 1, 2018 at 10:03 pm - Reply

    Is that a food kitchen scale?

    • Deborah Stewart September 6, 2018 at 7:25 pm - Reply

      Yes it is!

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