Making our own trees with clay in prek

I have already shared with you our tree farm sensory play which was a huge hit so today, I want to share with you the trees our prek students were invited to make as a part of our study on tree farms.

Making trees in Prek!

We have been spending a lot of time working with air-dry clay this year. The interesting thing about clay is that it isn’t soft and pliable at first like play dough is. Clay is much more challenging for fine motor skills to work with which I am noticing is a very good thing in our Pre-k class.

Making trees with clay in Prek!

To get the clay pliable, the children have to really work those fine motor muscles. In some cases, they need to put their whole bodies into the process. After a few minutes of warming up and kneading the clay, it does become a wonderful material to create and construct with. But first, you have to get the children to work their way through the challenges of using clay and for some children, that may require just a little bit of coaching and encouragement.

Making trees with clay in Pre-K!

My student’s have been using the clay to make beads and ornaments of their choosing but for this process, we focused on using the clay to make a base (or the roots) of our trees.

Making trees with clay in Pre-K!

After making their base, the children added their tree branches.

Making trees with clay in PreK!

When the children were happy with their tree they could wrap up the roots just like they did in our book, “The Great Spruce” by John Duvall.

Making Trees with Clay in Pre-K!

To wrap up their tree roots, they needed a piece of burlap and some string and some help. Some of the children helped each other wrap, hold, and tie while others tried to do it on their own.

Making Trees with Clay in Prek!

Where needed, Miss Lauren or I either helped with tying up the roots or held the string while the children worked to tie the roots up on their own.

Making Trees with Clay in Pre-K!

This process was definitely a combination of craftiness and fine motor skill challenges. I’m thinking that it might fall at a three on the process scale but the children stayed engaged in making their own trees and they will be a wonderful way to bring discussions about our tree farm home to mom and dad.

Making trees with clay in Pre-K!

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By |2016-12-03T22:06:29+00:00December 4th, 2016|

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. Deb Robison December 13, 2016 at 8:25 pm - Reply

    I Love this idea!!!! Did purchase the branches or are they cut from something else?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 13, 2016 at 8:26 pm - Reply

      I picked these up from hobby lobby so they wouldn’t fall off:)

  2. Jo December 14, 2016 at 2:34 am - Reply

    I like your mention of the benefit of needing to “work” the clay to make it pliable. I bet this would help work wrist and forearm strength as well as fine motor skills. This strength may not be especially important in and of itself, but it is hugely beneficial in injury prevention as little ninjas and gymnasts work their magic on their beds and couches!
    I coach gymnastics, parkour, and circus arts, and wrist and ankle injuries seem to be the most common type.
    Clay is now on my shopping list for my two gaffers. Thanks Deborah!

  3. jeanne December 19, 2016 at 9:35 am - Reply

    I love this idea, it is perfect for my little ones. They are always so excited to master new skills. I am interested in the cutting board used- where are they from? We could really use them.Thanks for all your work- your blog is my go-to when I am looking for ideas.

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