How to make a tree prop for storytelling and play using a wool pom pom and cardboard roll

Posted under Wool and Fleece

Sometimes, I just need a tree.
I’ve often admired those delightfully painted wooden trees, firs and pines and fruit trees, and I even own a few, but sometimes they just won’t do and I need something a little more simple or less decorative or less, I don’t know, contrived somehow…
I mean, I love apple trees.
Or I thought I did.  My version of an apple tree anyhow.
Like the ones I always used to draw, with a stubby rich-brown coloured trunk, a tree top shaped like a pale green fluffy cloud and delicate little red apples visible in some kind of geometric pattern.
Each apple was hung with care by a stalk, and two happy diamond shaped leaves sprouting from the stalk almost seemed to wave hello. The tree was that friendly!
In my drawings, apple trees were comfortable and welcoming and storybook like and just so inviting, quietly encouraging a child or  a nimble adult to climb up into cushioned nook hideouts.
But real apple trees don’t look anything like my drawings at all.
When I first saw an apple orchard, only a few moons ago in my husband’s hometown in New Zealand, my expectations were smashed to smithereens…   (Actually, perhaps this wasn’t the first time I saw an orchard, but it was the first time I actually knew those ugly trees were apples. Ugh)
 They were crabby, cranky, twisted, short trees
that reminded me of a crusty old woman with a bad attitude.
 I just can’t see the peachy cheeked, white bun wearing, rounded tum, apron-cloaked grandma type I’d imagined anymore. That favoured picture of her walking through dew soaked grass as she gathered sweet apples with a quick twist of the wrist, to be chopped up and stewed for a juicy pie, all gone.
Whilst it is lovely to give children a ‘picture image’ of something that is perfect and beautiful,
such as a lovely, painted piece of timber resembling a tree,
(and later, a barbie doll or a photoshopped image on a magazine) I wonder if we don’t set them up for disappointment when things don’t match up in the real world….
I certainly won’t be giving up the painted trees as I love them, but it is a question to ponder.
So, mostly I use a fallen branch for that tree.
But if we haven’t had a windy day for a while, and I just can’t find one suitable, I’ve had to make one.
This for me is the next best thing. It might not look real, but it is not trying to recreate a ‘still life’.
Rather, this tree simply suggests a tree form, one that all children can recognise.
And it is quick and easy, and the pom pom can be recycled to other craft projects when it is finished being a tree top.  And it is almost free too.
Firstly, you need to do is make a pompom
A circle 10cm across makes a juicy pom pom!
A mix of green wools is nice too, or you can just do one colour as I did.
For the base, you’ll need a cardboard tube of some sort.
I’m not a big fan of recycling toilet rolls (a leftover attitude from many years working in resource-strapped childcare centres) but I will use the insert roll from kitchen foil or baking paper.
These are much sturdier too.
Paint the entire roll with craft glue.
Take a ball of brown wool and tie a slipknot .
Slip this over the base end of the roll, as close to the bottom as you can. Pull it tight to hold.
Slowly and carefully, begin winding your wool around and around the tube until you reach the very top.
Try to avoid holes or gaps by pushing the wool down on the tube every now and then.
Finish by tying a knot at the top.  The loose end can hang down inside the tube.



Use a green coloured cotton to sew the pompom to the base with just a few tacking threads.
I do love this squishy tree.
And by the way,
 did you know you can even join a facebook group
I am a fan of these nonsensical groups!
I’ve seen some funny ones over the years, and it just makes my heart sing to know that others in this world have silly habits or thoughts too.
Kind of reminds me that we’re all more the same than we are different.
Have you giggled too?  What is the funniest one you’ve seen?

6 Responses to “How to make a tree prop for storytelling and play using a wool pom pom and cardboard roll”

  1. Sharningu

    I saw this tree at Moondew today and was loving it! I have wanted to make trees for ages, but thought they all seemed too complicated.

    I have some little wooden doll heads that look just like apples :)

  2. Anonymous

    I had thought for a while, and then also read someone else’s reflections on when you ask Australian children and adults to draw a tree, they typically draw a tree more likely to be found in an English countryside, then in Australia. The author talked about the impressions of what a tree is, rather than the real observation of the trees around us, for example the way a gum tree looks with its branches. Fliss

  3. Amber Greene

    Thanks Jo! Sharni- now you can make one too. Thanks for this Fliss. I can imagine that. How sad though that the gum tree, such a feature in Aus plays such a small role in our consciousness. Let’s do all we can to bring that lovely gum inside and into the children’s spaces. I remember in primary school finding the gum leaves and pulling them apart to make a gum tree whistle. Do you? It is one of my strongest typically Australian memories..

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