Make: A Mini Pine Tree Farm Holiday Sensory Activity

A little more than a month to Christmas and I’ve been hoarding advent calendar inspiration! I’m rarely organized enough to get 25 little gifts together for so many of the cute advent calendars I lust over on Pinterest, so I opted for something uniquely versatile instead…

This snowy little Christmas tree farm scene doubles as a sensory-filled wintry experience for little ones AND an easy countdown to Christmas.

Create an easy Christmas countdown with this adorable DIY pine tree lot scene! | via barley & birch

As a holiday season bonus, this was both relaxing and fun to build together. We really enjoyed scouting the neighborhood for different types of pinecones for our “tree” varieties and planning out the little details. Once painted, we tossed our pinecones with a few drops of cedar oil for easy sensory-stimulating winter play! And adding a dusting of fresh powder at the end was the cherry on our snow-covered sundae.

Create an easy Christmas countdown with this adorable DIY pine tree lot scene! | via barley & birch

There is no wrong way to make this, and the process of imagining your own little scene and making it come to life is pure magic! The fun is all in experimentation, finding new ways to play with natural materials, and building a tiny world together.

Press play to take a little tour around our tiny Christmas tree farm!

Pair this activity with some read-alouds from our favorite picture books about Christmas trees for a cozy afternoon of fun on the pine tree farm! Or recycle a box into a cardboard snowplow with moveable parts that you can use with your sensory play tree farm!

To make your own mini pine tree farm Christmas countdown you’ll need:

Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains either our own printable products, or Woodpeckers Crafts, Etsy, Blick Art Materials, and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*


  • Pinecones
  • Paint and a brush
  • A small cardboard gift box
  • Twigs and/or paper straws
  • Chalkboard paint (like this)
  • A glue gun
  • A few small balls of clay or playdough
  • Cotton or faux snow (I used this kind because it’s non-toxic and biodegradable)


  • Moss, evergreen sprigs, or other natural decoration
  • Cedar oil or similar (for scent)
  • A string of fairy lights (like these)
  • A chalk pen (I used this kind)
  • Plastic gloves (for paint-dipped pinecones)

Pine Tree Farm DIY Christmas Countdown Instructions:

Collect natural materials

We used sticks, twigs, and pinecones, but you can collect and use anything you like!

As we collected our pinecones, we noticed there were so many different types – right in our backyard! With our selection of three different kinds, we were able to make a few different types of “trees”.

Paint and scent your pinecones

We used three different colors for our three different “pine varieties” but you can use as many or as few as you want! This is a great opportunity to talk and learn about different kinds of coniferous trees.
Paint your pinecones
You can use a brush to paint your pinecones, but we dipped ours in a jar filled with paint, using our (plastic-glove-covered!) hands to push the paint into some of the nooks and crannies.

Optional: finish off your pinecones by scenting them with cedar oil. Toss in a bag with about 10 drops of cedar oil (or whatever scent you prefer).

Make a vendor’s stand for your countdown

The adorable little stand we made isn’t just there to look cute…it’s your Christmas countdown!

Cut a small, sturdy gift box in half, then use hot glue to cover the front of the box with small twigs cut to the length of the box. Hot glue two twigs to each side at the front.
Make your vendor stand with a cardboard box and twigs
Cut a piece of cereal box the same length as your box and paint with chalkboard paint. Once dry, glue sticks along the edge, then use a chalk marker to add your countdown text and the numbered countdown.

Add Christmas-y details!

We made a little truck from cardstock and a long, thin cardboard jewelry box (perfect for toting pine trees). And a pine tree lot is never complete without a small stack of logs for cozy winter fires!
Add details like a truck, twinkle lights or log bundles to your winter scene.

Arrange candy-striped poles on your cardboard base

We had some paper straws that created the perfect poles to define our Christmas tree lot. You could use sticks or painted twigs though too! We stuck our straws into small mounds of clay – this gives them a nice solid base to help them stand and hold them upright.
Add some candy-striped paper straws for light poles
We hung a tiny string of paper lights, but how cute would this look with some actual fairy lights strung up from pole to pole?

Build your scene by adding the pinecone trees, stand, and more

Time to begin building your scene! As with our paper straw poles, some of our pinecones needed a small clay base to stand upright. Arrange and re-arrange all of your mini elements for some fun small-world play!

Just add snow!

We thought we’d cover up a bit of the cardboard AND make this DIY a full sensory experience by adding a layer of faux snow. The kind we found (linked in the supply list) was INCREDIBLY fun to watch expand and play around with!
Add some faux snow for extra sensory stimulation and play!
Don’t forget to add some little “footprints” through the snow with your fingertips!

This is honestly one of the most enchanting small-world activities we’ve ever made. Maybe in part because there’s just something so special about this time of year. With the Christmas playlist on repeat and an early snow falling, we cozied up around the kitchen table and just played.

Create an easy Christmas countdown with this adorable DIY pine tree lot scene! | via barley & birch

If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll probably recognize this little scene as part of our #Craftmas celebration this year. For more details, be sure to visit our DIY for a simple twig and pinecone holiday hanger. Then hop over to our nature-inspired menorah – for a kid-safe, colorful celebration of lights!

Create an easy Christmas countdown with this adorable DIY pine tree lot scene! | via barley & birch

Looking for a few low-stress activities to keep younger kids entertained? Download our pine tree art template bundle for hours of winter evergreen arts and crafts entertainment. Or cut out a set of 5-minute felt counting houses to combine with these winter-themed counting, sorting, and fine motor skill activities.

Create an easy Christmas countdown with this adorable DIY pine tree lot scene! | via barley & birch

*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Blick Art Materials, Amazon, Etsy, or Woodpeckers Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click through to make a purchase we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!

Amanda Eldridge
Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.

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