Buttons and Play Dough Sensory Christmas Tree Play

Christmas is a busy time for me! Putting up decorations, preparing for guests, making festive snacks... there's so much to do! Thank goodness for easy, low-prep setups that keep a toddler engaged and busy too ;P

Repurposing the homemade green play dough and buttons I used for Help Corduroy Find His Lost Button Toddler Activity, I created another easy sensory toddler activity, one that's Christmas-themed and perfect for this festive season!

It will allow her to decorate a Christmas tree for as long as she likes, in any way she fancies! This activity is right up Miss 20 months' alley, because she can't leave my real Christmas tree alone sometimes ;)

Buttons and Play Dough Sensory Christmas Tree Play

Buttons and Play Dough Sensory Christmas Tree Play!

Little ones will find it fascinating to poke buttons into the play dough Christmas tree, and leave button imprints all over the tree.

The Setup

Materials needed:

  • Green play dough (Mine is homemade, more about the recipe here.)
  • Rolling pin
  • Colorful buttons (Substitutes: Short cut straws, pebbles, beads)
  • Star tree topper (I used the yellow star toy from a Fisher-Price sorting set. You can use a star cookie cutter or make your own cardboard star!)


  • Flatten green play dough using a rolling pin
  • Shape the play dough into the shape of a Christmas tree using your hands (or use a blunt knife to cut out the shape)
  • Place buttons and star topper in a small container beside the Christmas tree. Invite your child to play!

Buttons and Play Dough Sensory Christmas Tree Play

Developmental Benefits of this Activity

  • Playing with dough and buttons create a sensory experience that especially stimulate the sense of sight and touch
  • Foster creativity and self-expression through art and decoration
  • Fine motor development with kneading and playing of dough
  • Improve pincer grip (Important for writing skills at a later stage)
  • Enhance object and shape recognition
  • Strengthen spatial awareness of relationships between objects
  • Introduction to basic science (Learning about physics and how they work e.g. how application of force displaces objects and changes their physical properties like their shapes)
  • Build vocabulary and language skills as caregiver and child interact and work on the tree decoration together

Buttons and Play Dough Sensory Christmas Tree Play

Other DIY Christmas Tree Sensory Play Ideas

You can even take this activity a step further and make Christmas tree ornaments with your little ones! The completed Christmas tree ornaments would make great decorative pieces for your tree that you can reuse year on year!

Buttons and Play Dough Sensory Christmas Tree Play

To follow Gwen's play adventures, check out @miraculove_sg (Instagram), save our pins or join A Toddler Activity A Day Facebook Group.

Buttons and Play Dough Sensory Christmas Tree Play

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Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.

Hi! Thank you for taking time to read my blog. I am a stay-home Singaporean mama living in Seattle who is passionate about child-led and open-ended play for children in a conducive home environment.

Discovering Montessori and Reggio has been a life-changer for me. It made me an empathetic and mindful parent who follows my child’s needs and interests in the activities I plan at home. I hope the Montessori-friendly and Reggio inspired baby and toddler activities I share here inspire you too.

Happy reading!