All About My Family Tree Activity For Kids

Sensory Play and Pre-Writing for #PlayfulPreschool

family tree activity playful preschool pre-writing and sensory play

Hands-On Playful Preschool Fall Learning

I am so excited to be a part of a great team of educators and moms joining together to bring all of you amazing playful preschool activities each week. Each week will have a fun theme for the month or holiday and will cover all areas of early learning including the arts. music, science, literacy, math and more. I hope you will check back each week to see what we have to offer. We love hands-on sensory play and simple early learning activities!

Family Tree Activity

This week’s theme is all about families! My favorite season is fall so I thought I would put together  a fun and simple family tree activity with my son. It was great fun to sift through family photos and talk about grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, cousins, babies, and of course mommy and daddy! Since we had a blast putting together this neat little project, I thought I would surprise him with a new kid of sensory bin and a little pre-writing play!

Materials Needed:

  • photos of family members
  • paper, tape or glue
  • markers
  • leaf cut outs (draw your own or use a special paper punch)
  • bin or container
  • sand or other fine sensory bin filler like cornmeal
  • paint brush
  • dry erase crayons or markers

My Family Tree Activity Preparation And Set Up

First we discussed the family members he knows and sees regularly and then we talked about those that we see only once or twice a year if that. I retrieved a huge pile of photos, and we spent some pretty fun quality time looking through them together. Many were baby picture sod him and he thought that was great! Luckily, We were able to find pictures of those family members that we see all the time! I made mental note to take more pictures of him with long distance family members when we see them next!

Make A Family Tree Quickly:

  1. Draw a rough tree shape on a piece of paper. Have your child help if he is interested
  2. Color as desired
  3. Cut out family member’s photo 
  4. Tape or glue photos onto tree.
  5. Add leaves or decorations
  6. Laminate (we took ours to staples and they actually made a photo copy of it first and then laminated it for under $3) I hope to frame our original and put it in his room!

Note: If you look closely at our family tree, it is not set up like an official family tree. We talked about what a family tree is and what it means. Also, we sorted family members by mommy’s side or daddy’s side. I let him place them with just a bit of direction. It’s a learning process!

family tree activity project and laminated project

Turn Your Family Tree Activity Into A Sensory Bin

Later that evening, I chose to make our family tree activity into a fun hide and find family sensory bin. This is where the laminated sheet is helpful. I placed the picture in the bottom of a container and covered with colored sand from the craft store. You could also use flour or cornmeal too. I added some acorns and more leaves for decorations. A paintbrush was provided to sweep away the sand and locate family members! He had blast since this was a new twist on a sensory bin for us. We even turned it into a bit of a memory game. Who is where?

family tree activity sensory bin set up

Simple materials and a homemade family tree activity make for a special learning time activity and play!

family tree activity sensory play

Turn Your Family Tree Into A Pre-Writing Activity

We took the laminated picture out of the sensory bin for more fun. I gave him a set of dry erase crayons to write and draw on the picture. He circled family members as I called them out either by name or type of family member (great-grandma, cousin, uncle etc). He also thought it looked like a maze! Flip it over and practice writing names too. Erases beautifully with a paper towel or cloth!

family tree activity pre-writing set up

New ways to practice pre-writing skills are great for fine motor play!

family tree activity pre-writing activity play and learning

Plan your Family Theme Preschool Activities with these ideas from the Playful Preschool Education Team!

Family Theme Learning Activities: Reading – Writing – Cooking – Sensory – Art – Math

Bookmaking for a Preschool Family Theme from Fun A Day

Finding My Family on a Map from Powerful Mothering

Preschool Writing Activity: Letters to Family from Mom Inspired Life

Cooking with Kids: Family Recipe Books from Growing Book By Book

Our Family Tree: Sorting Family Members from Still Playing School

Family Themed Sensory Bin from Little Bins for Little Hands

Tips for Using Skype to Connect with Family from The Educators’ Spin On It

Family Portraits from Rainy Day Mum

Family Footprints from Capri +3

Family Tree Stick Crafts from The Preschool Toolbox


  1. I love that you laminated your finished family tree and used it in a variety of educational activities. The photos look great on the tree with the colorful leaves.

  2. I love the prewritting activities. I might have to try out the idea of usin the sensory bin for prewritting. Last time I tried it it didn’t go over so well with my Tot.

  3. This is so much fun and I love all the ways you adapted it. I especially like the hide and find sensory bin activity. My little guy would so enjoy that!

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