I’ll be honest, when I first made this DIY felt Christmas tree a few years ago, the sole purpose was to avoid broken glass and crushed Christmas dreams. A one year old boy and a real tree simply don’t play well together, you know? We didn’t even have a grown up tree that Christmas when my son was one year old. It was so bad, that one of my friends gave us a tiny Charlie Brown Christmas tree to put on our side table. It was pitiful, y’all.
Well, we’ve come a long way since then, mama! Our little guy is just about to turn three, and he’s bursting with that independent spirit. We stuffed a huge tree in our tiny living room and I decorated it to my heart’s content.
Of course, I still had that felt tree stored in my son’s closet. When he saw me bring it out, I could see his eyes instantly light up with recognition. “That my own tree, mommy!”
Well, up in his room it went! I hung it up with push pins. (I learned the hard way that command strips will never, ever stick to either felt or a textured wall.) My son fell in love with his tiny tree all over again this Christmas. I’m so glad he has a little bit of Christmas cheer spread to his own bedroom this year!
Psst… if you’re looking for a felt Christmas tree tutorial, check out this one from Chelsea at Two Twenty One.
One of our favorite things to do is to sneak early learning activities into everyday play. This year as we set up his felt Christmas tree, a few simple Christmas preschool activities popped in my mind. My son loves learning through hands-on play, and I love watching him engage and discover new ideas!
Here’s what we’re doing to learn with our DIY felt Christmas tree.
Early Learning Activities for your Felt Christmas Tree!
I started with this activity since it’s something my son is more familiar with. He know his colors pretty well, so I wanted to build confidence with this easy win first.
- Place one of each color ornament on the tree.
- With the rest of the ornaments in a pile on the floor, have your child pick out one at a time and sort it into the correct category.
- Use vocab words like “similar, different, group, sort, and category” as your child sorts.
- For an element of challenge and to encourage what we teachers call “error analysis,” place an ornament in the wrong color group on purpose. As your child to find your mistake!
Next, we practiced making patterns with the ornaments. Practicing pattern recognition is super important for toddlers and preschoolers! Making a pattern requires pretty complex critical thinking skills. Patterns are the foundation of math skills like multiplication, division and even algebra! Start practicing patterns now to help your child develop this essential foundation!
- Start with making your own pattern with the ornaments. (blue- yellow- blue, etc.)
- Have your child copy your pattern underneath with the same colors.
- Practice this a few times until your child grasps the concept of a repeated pattern.
- Try different pattern combinations. (ABAB, AABB, AAAB, and AABA)
- To extend this activity, have your child make his own pattern, and let him explain the elements. (This pattern is pink, green, pink, pink. If I wanted to make a matching pattern with different colors, I could do blue, blue, yellow, blue.) Yes I know that’s pretty deep thinking for preschoolers, but try it out!
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The third activity we’re using our felt Christmas tree for is creating a bar graph. This one is especially fun if you have a train lover, since you can explain that we are going to hook the ornaments together into train lines. Graphing is just amazing for helping preschoolers understand number sense. Graphs are naturally visual representations of data, and we all know that most preschoolers thrive on visual learning!
- Start with one of each color lined up on the horizontal axis.
- Show your child how to add the correct color in a bar going upward.
- Once he has all the ornaments lined up correctly, ask a few questions to help him understand what the graph is telling you.
- Which color has the greatest (or biggest) number of ornaments? How can you tell? (You can tell because it’s the tallest!)
- Which color has the least (or smallest) number of ornaments? How can you tell? (You can tell because it’s the shortest!)
- Is there more blue than green? Why or why not?, etc.
- Use the vocabulary words “greater than, less than, more, greatest, least, and same” as you talk about the graph.
Want more graphing fun? Don’t miss this hot wheels cars graphing activity. Set up in less than two minutes. Play and learn all day long!
I know our DIY felt Christmas tree is going to be a holiday tradition around our house. If you make one for your family, be sure to try out a few of these activities, or share your own ideas in the comments!
Ready to unplug your toddler or preschooler?