This apple orchard play corner is fun to assemble and costs almost nothing! All you need is a large cardboard box, and a few simple craft supplies. The one I’ve made contains a very gentle invitation to practice some math skills and is also designed for dramatic play. It would be easy to tweak the design to promote learning through play in other areas as well!
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You will need:
-Part of a large cardboard box
A note: I don’t have the copyright permissions to share the clip art I used, so you will have to search for your own, but I assure you it wasn’t hard to find!
Here’s what I started with. My husband bought a generator and had to rip the box to get the thing out, but the corner left behind just looked so inviting that I couldn’t help using it for something!
I trimmed the box to the shape I wanted and painted. I suggest using acrylic. I left the flap on the top of the box and painted it as well- it’s flipped over here but it’ll be held up later. I also painted all the way around the back.
I made the tree trunk by ripping a shape out of the leftover cardboard to give it a “natural” look, then painting it brown.
I cut a big shape for the top out of the tree out of some more cardboard…
…then used LOTS of hot glue to cover it with felt (I wrapped the edges around the back and glued them as well). Since a single piece of felt wasn’t big enough I had to piece a few together but I think it just adds to the leaf-like texture!
Then I glued both the trunk and the treetop onto the background (again, not skimping on the hot glue!)
Since it overlapped the top of the box I secured it with some duct tape in the back.
To add a math component, I wanted to make a place for kids to match numbers on the back. First I printed out some apple shapes, four to a page. I colored them in (I knew I’d be cutting them out so I didn’t bother being neat!), wrote the numbers 1-10 on them, and laminated them with my trusty laminator.
When I cut them out, before I glued them to the box I used them to trace apples on some red felt.
Setting those aside, I also cut out ten strips of green felt, then glued them to the back of the box with my apple numbers.
I took the apples I’d traced on the felt and painted “seeds” on them by dipping the end of a sharpie in brown paint and using it like a stamp. I made two sets of numbers 1-5, patterned like you’d see on a die.
Then cut them out and stuck them on the tree! I LOVE how felt sticks to itself!
For a finishing touch, I printed and cut out some apple orchard details- a tractor, an apple barrel, and some extra trees- and used modge podge to scatter them around the background (Modge podge is my new favorite thing because it’s SO secure. It’ll be clear when it dries, don’t worry!).
And that’s it!
There are so many possible uses for this little corner!
-Fine motor skills (sticking the apples to the tree and peeling them off)
-Matching and ordering quantities;
-Numeral recognition (matching dots to numbers)
-And playing memory! (i.e. stick all the apples to the front of the tree, dot side down. Each player gets to turn over two apples. If they match, they keep the pair. If not, they turn them back over)
How would your kids use the apple orchard play area? Leave a comment and let me know!
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