This activity was generated by our youngest.  After making a popsicle stick house, he wanted a tree to go with it, spurring the idea that he could have trees that would change with the seasons!


  • Various sizes of popsicle sticks (We used tongue depressors for the trunks)
  • Hook & loop fastener (Velcro) self-adhesive dots (You can buy these at dollar stores, craft stores, hardware stores etc.)
  • Glue (We used a glue gun, but craft glue could work too)
  • Brown paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Buttons (Often you can find large mixed bags of buttons which would be great for this or use some from your existing collection)

Small World

  • Play dough (For the trees to stand.  We like the recipe below and add a bit of coco powder or cinnamon to it to make it brown.  Or simply buy some!)
  • Figurines
  • Items that might help set the scene (Rocks, gems, felt, etc.)

Our Favourite Play Dough Recipe

*This recipe should be made by an adult*


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 salt
  • 3 tbsp cream of tarter
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Food colouring


  • Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium pan.
  • Add water and oil.
  • Cook on medium heat, adding the food colouring and spice.
  • Stir continuously.
  • When the dough mix pulls away from the sides and forms into a large ball, the dough is ready to be placed in a small bowl to cool.
  • Store in a plastic container or re-sealable bag.

Source: Japer Place Child and Family Resource Centre

We always find these items useful too:



  • Create and glue your tree shapes with your popsicle sticks.  We used a tongue depressor (wide craft stick) for the trunk and then formed the branches, using smaller craft sticks.  Allow to dry.
  • Paint your trees and allow them to dry.
  • Attach the rough side of your Velcro dots to the tree branches where you think leaves would grow.
  • Attach the fuzzy side of your Velcro dots to the backs of your buttons.  We tried to pick colours that were typical with the seasons in Canada.
  • We put three of the seasons’ buttons into storage containers and then added the button leaves to the trees from the fourth season.  We then played with those, creating a scene with loose parts and figurines.  Use materials that you might have on hand, like construction paper, rocks or fabric scraps to flesh out the setting.
  • Switch the seasons by changing the leaves.

Four Season Play Trees:  Make these interchangeable trees for small world play that use buttons for spring, summer, fall & winter


  • Developing one’s fine motor skills.
  • Recognizing colours that are typically associated with the various seasons.
  • Small worlds are great for imaginative and role play, communication, developing imagination etc.

Safety Notes

  • We suggest that you use a tray and a smock to protect your clothing and surfaces.
  • Use a glue gun with care and direct, adult supervision.
  • Buttons can be a choking hazard, therefore be sure to keep them out of the reach of children ages 0-3 years of age or those that tend to put things into their mouths.
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