A Simple Apple Tree Threading Activity to work on Fine Motor Skills

To help toddlers and preschoolers make connections to the passing seasons, you can create themed activities – just like this simple apple tree threading idea.

Working on fine motor skills is a core aspect of development in the formative years – particularly if you want to help your child feel confident and comfortable with writing when they get to primary school. Threading items, with beads is just one of the ways in which you can do that.


a lump of playdough and pipe cleaners has been used to create a tree along with some green and red beads to create a apple tree threading activity

Benefits of this Apple Tree Threading Activity

Making connections to the world: this apple tree threading activity works best when connections to the season (Autumn) have already been made. Perhaps you have visited an apple orchard or you have an apple tree in your back garden. Either way, it helps children to make the connection that we harvest apples in the early Autumn months

Fine motor skills: this is quite the workout for small fingers! Your child will need to pinch the beads to pick them up, then use hand-eye coordination to put the beads onto (or off of) the tree

Counting: this apple tree threading activity can also be used to help children work on counting – count the beads together as the are put onto or off the apple tree. Ask how many red beads or how many green beads there are.

Problem solving and perseverance: focus is needed to get the beads onto the tree!

a photograph of the bare apple tree that has been made using pipe cleaners and play dough.


  • Homemade or store bought play dough
  • pipe cleaners
  • small red and green beads
  • a wooden tray

Tip: use larger beads with younger children who are just starting to develop their fine motor skills 


a 3 year old girl tries the apple threading activity by placing small red and green beads onto the pipe cleaner 'tree'


How to recreate the apple tree threading activity:

You can set up this activity at home in less than 5 minutes!

  • First, roll a ball of play dough onto a wooden tray.
  • Place a chenille stick into the centre of the dough to make a tree ‘trunk ‘
  • Add 2-3 more ‘branches’ by twisting the pipe cleaners around the trunk

After you have created the tree, there’s two different ways you could set up the activity for your child. Unless you do a lot of fine motor work and bead threading at home already, I recommend you try the easier option first.

Easier option: thread the beads onto the ‘tree’ for your child, then invite them to pull the beads off of the tree. This still requires fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination by it is less fiddly.

Harder option: place the beads to the side of the tree you have created, and invite your child to place the ‘apples’ onto the tree.

Extension: count the beads used. How many red? How many green?

At Home Autumn Art & Sensory Camp

If you enjoyed this  Apple Tree Threading post and wanted to find more fun Autumn themed activities, check out the At Home Autumn Art & Sensory Camp in my membership group. If you would like to access the content, you can check it out here. 

This image shows a timetable for an Autumn art & sensory camp. The pumpkin hammer art is one of the activities included


Autumn Blog posts to read next:

You might also enjoy some of our other Autumn posts. Most are suitable for both toddlers and preschoolers:

Autumn Art Ideas for Preschoolers

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Mask

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt story basket

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt pre-writing skills  activity 

21 Autumn Ideas for the Entire Family

Autumn Activities for Kids: 25 Playful Prompts

Autumn Loose Parts Play

Autumn Preschool Leaf Cutting Tray

Apple Playdough Activity

Farm Playdough Ideas

Sunflower Sensory Play Activity 

Pumpkin Hammer Art 

Pumpkin Gloop 

Simple Autumn Sensory: Pumpkin soup

You can also search the keyword ‘Autumn’ in the blog search bar for the most up-to-date Autumn blog post listing.


Interested in learning more?

If you enjoyed this simple apple tree threading idea and want to learn more about sensory play and the importance of play in the early years, you might just like my exclusive membership, ‘How I drink my Coffee Hot’ too. The membership costs just $5 per month and you get access to 10 mini courses on a range of topics including sensory play, play spaces and starting school. Here are some membership posts that you might enjoy:

Sensory Play Mini Course

Starting School Mini Course 

Play Space 101 Mini Course

Toys 101 Mini Course

Sian Thomas
an image of This Playful Home founder, Sian Thomas. The photo includes a photo of her daughter when she was around 18 months old

I’m Siân (rhymes with yarn), a play advocate, proud parent to three, and former teacher. My mission is to infuse more joy and less overwhelm into the lives of parents. Discover play-based activities with me that not only make learning FUN but also forge deep connections with your young learners, creating memories to cherish forever.