Button Apple Tree Invitation to Play

It’s day four of our Fall Invitations to Play series with My Nearest and Dearest, Buggy and Buddy, Play Trains, and Twodaloo.  This button apple tree is another apple inspired invitation to play that we used during our recent apple theme.

Today’s Fall Invitation to Play

We talked a lot about apple trees, so I thought these materials might inspire the kids to create apple trees of their own.

Invitation to Create Apple Trees


  • red buttons
  • green buttons
  • cinnamon sticks
  • large piece of green felt or flat workspace

Ways Children Might Use the Materials

Below is a brief list of skills kids might practice using these materials. However, as I watch kids interact with new invitations I am always impressed by their creativity in using materials in ways that I may never have thought of. This kind of free exploration is one of things I enjoy most about invitations to play.

  • Sensory Exploration
  • Fine Motor
  • Creativity
  • Beginning math skills like patterning, counting, sorting and creating basic shapes
  • Color recognition

Toddler Fine Motor Play-Apple Button Trees

As I mentioned above I thought the kids might create some version of an apple tree, but they didn’t. They all had very different ideas for these materials. Tinker created a house for all her “doggies” (the red buttons).

Preschool Loose Parts Play

Big Buddy concentrated for a long time on aligning the cinnamon sticks and balancing the buttons on them.

They may not have created apple trees, but that’s not really important. They did use their own creativity and engage in open-ended play as the result of this invitation, and that was the overall goal.

Note: I was told that touching your eyes after handling cinnamon sticks may cause irritation. We did not have any difficulty with this, but you may want to be sure children wash hands after this activity just in case.

Now that you’ve seen today’s invitation to play, head on over and see what the other members of the series have planned for you. And don’t forget to stop by tomorrow for our last post in the Fall Invitations to Play series!

Apple Orchard Invitation to Play by My Nearest and Dearest

Art Using Fall Colors by Buggy and Buddy

Fall Spice Railroad by Play Trains!

Magnetic Fall Tree by Twodaloo


Printable Apple Theme Lesson Plans

Are you teaching an apple-inspired theme soon?

Check out our apple theme lesson plans. We have a general apples theme and a book-based Ten Apples Up on Top theme. Both are full of hands-on learning activities that include reading, math, science, fine motor activities, sensory play, and more.

Apples Home Preschool Activities        Ten Apples Up on Top activities-home preschool lesson plans

These sets are designed for home preschool, but we’re thinking of you too classroom teachers. We’ll have classroom versions available for your use soon!

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  1. Love this one! Buttons are one of the twins’ favorite things to play with. I know they would love this!

    • Something about toddlers and buttons! I carry a small container of random buttons in my purse for Tinker to play with when we are waiting at places. She loves it!

  2. I love when that happens! It is wonderful that you just let them create – this is something I am definitely working on – I would have so much trouble not suggesting they try a tree! I did an invitation to play (you and your crew inspired me) for play doh apple pie – and it ended up being a parking lot. Oh the creativity of a 3 year old!

    • How exciting! I love that you were inspired by our craziness. 🙂 I will say that it has been a process for me to learn to sit back and let the play and learning unfold, but you’re right…the creativity is amazing!

  3. I really like the whole invitation to play/invitation to create idea. I always go into a project with a specific idea (usually not the same idea my preschooler has!). I love the way you just set out the materials and see what they make of it. And even though your children didn’t make apple trees – they both came up with creative ideas anyway! 🙂

    • Ha! I know what you mean. My kids rarely have the same vision as me, but in many ways the creativity and learning the develop from their own curiosity is so much more meaningful.

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