My son is a hands-on and very visual learner, so I try to incorporate tangible learning activities wherever I can, including in the playroom. One of his favorite hands-on activities is the Playroom Learning Tree where he is able to work on reading skills, math skills, problem solving, and motor skills.
You may notice that this tree was painted on the wall. I realize that not everyone can paint a tree on the wall, whether you are not allowed to paint in the house you live in or you just aren’t fond of painting, I will share alternatives for you. The same goes for the hanging pieces.
Now that our playroom makeover is complete (for now) and I am so excited to begin sharing tutorials with you. I decided the Playroom Learning Tree would be the perfect place to start as it is rather simple to pull together.
For my tutorial, I use wooden pieces and paint, but you can always find alternatives.
For the tree, perhaps you would want to cut a piece of out wood or even cardboard. Maybe you want to glue construction paper onto poster board. Whatever makes it easiest for you; the activity will work either way.
For the hanging pieces, I used wooden pieces and painted onto them, but you can always cut out felt and glue on or paint on designs, use wooden pieces and add cut out magazine clippings or printed free clip art using a decoupage technique, or even find pre-made ornaments and just write on the backs.
This Playroom Learning Tree is very flexible on what can be added, how it can be used for learning, and what materials it is made from.
Playroom Learning Tree
What You Need
Unfinished wooden circles/coasters (I used 24)
Mini clear stick-on hooks (6 is a good number)
Large and small paintbrushes
1. Before I even touched the tree, I made sure I had all of the hanging pieces in order. I purchased 24 of them (that’s just how the packs were–you can always do more or less.).
2. Now, I did this part backwards, but I recommend doing the drilling before creating the pictures. I had my husband bring out his drill and drill small holes near the top of each of the wooden circles, leaving enough room that the wood would not break but far enough up that it would not interfere with pictures. You will probably want to sand this down as you may end up with some pieces chipping off slightly and we want to prevent splinters.
3. Paint the pieces one side at a time. I chose to paint the designs first then I went back around them with the green color I would be using for the tree on the wall. You can do yours in either order; just be sure to let each layer of paint dry completely before adding more. If you choose to skip painting on the designs, paint the green background color, let dry, then use decoupage glue to attach cut-out pictures of the designs (or glue on felt pieces.). Again, let everything dry completely before moving on.
My designs included:
I made 5 of each design. For the apples I did multiple colors. For the pears, I made one different than the other (with a bite eaten out of it). The lemons were all the same. The oranges ranged from small to big. I included four critters you would find in trees: a squirrel, a moth, a caterpillar, and a bird.
4. For the backs, I actually left them unpainted and simply wrote on the backs, except for the ones with critters. In hind sight, I wish I had painted the backs as well and painted on the letters and numbers and I very well may go back and complete that at a later date. In the meantime, I just used a permanent marker to add letters and numbers to the backs–I spelled out “p-e-a-r-s” and “A-P-P-L-E” and “L-E-M-O-N” and I numbered 1-5.
I put the letters and numbers on the backs, but you can even put them on the fronts and leave the backs blank as I did for the critters. This way you can also use it as a memory game.
5. Once both sides of the hanging pieces are dried completely, tie strips of string together then loop them through the hole so they hang. I made sure the yarn wouldn’t fall off by gluing the bottom near the base and carefully melting the ends of the string where I had tied it.
6. Now for the tree. I first painted the trunk and branches with brown acrylic paint then I painted on the treetop with basic green. If the paint is not covering enough, you may need to do a couple other layers of paint (be sure to let each layer dry completely first or it will be an endless battle of trying to get the paint to cover.).
7. Once the paint has completely dried, attach the clear mini hooks. Place these strategically. I made it so the tree was evenly covered with the 6 hooks.
Your child will be able to spell words, number 1-5, order biggest to smallest, identify fruits and colors, examine differences and sharpen problem solving skills, learn who lives in the tree, and work on their fine motor skills as they hang the pieces on the Playroom Learning Tree.
Store the extra pieces in a basket underneath the tree.
Do you have any other fun ways of how this tree could be used for learning? Share with me in the comments! I’d love to hear!