Thursday, April 8, 2010

Trees

Spring has come to our fair land, and that land is coming to life!


Today we made some trees.

Before I share more, I need to say that a lot of our
crafting is experimental. Sometimes I find something
very exciting on a blog or in a book or magazine, but
my blog surfing is very limited, thanks to my children's
tendency to climb all over me the minute I sit down in
front of the computer. So we make up a lot of our
projects. Many of my hare-brained ideas are inspired
by my kids' play, but the techniques are what I remember
from old books or what I've picked up hanging out with
Dad. Quite a few of these projects never make it beyond
a fancy notion in my head, but some end up happy
accidents that might even be worth sharing here.
This is one of them.


So, as I was saying, we made trees.

Trees are tall and have a high center of gravity,
so they need a stable-ish stand. I had one of those
triangular cheeses-in-circular boxes in my fridge,
so I used that. I also made a flat cone out of a cereal
box. I cut a small hole in the middle, and slits
around it, to hold the tree trunk.

So two alternatives for stands


which the girls decorated with torn tissue paper and/or fake grass.




Now for the tree itself:

We used two and a half (save the left-over half)
sheets of brown construction paper, laid short-end-
to-short-end and glued into a long strip. This we
rolled into a many-layered roll, like wrapping paper.
Ours was about 1.5" in diameter (approx).
Deep (about two-thirds way down) slits were cut
through all the layers so that
each section was about an inch wide.




From the top, pull up the innermost layer, twisting slowly,
to release the branches. It was a windy day, so I had to
wedge the bottom in between the wooden planks
of my deck to take the picture below.


(Optional) If you want a taller tree, with branches that
begin farther up from the ground, roll the leftover half
sheet of construction paper around the bottom of the trunk.

Insert bottom of trunk in stand. Glue in place if necessary.

So far everything looks like a cross between a
feather-duster and a hat rack, rather than tree-like.
Let's trim the upper branches to give the tree
some shape, and then do a little magic.



Folding not only gives shape to the flat branches, but also ridigity.

Start out with a "valley" and bend up


or a "mountain" and bend down. And up again.


Or make a short cut along the side before folding,
to make a straight twig.

There- a little more tree-like now

especially with some grass:


Add leaves,

fruit, (or flowers) - Jenna chose lemons because
she watched Maisy and Maisy made lemonade from
lemons she picked from her tree.

Emily chose apples(if we had any casuarina cones, we'd have made a durian tree!).

Then girls added more ideas -
a nest with eggs and a bird

a beehive

a hole in the trunk for other tree-dwellers:

and a swing.

Peekaboo!

The girls and I might revisit this project later in the year,
but in case we don't, here are some ideas we had but
didn't bother to incorporate at this time:
  • Twisting the branches instead of just folding them, to get a gnarled look. This did not work well at all with construction paper (too fragile) but I'm thinking it would be awesome with cardstock.
  • Making the tree with cardstock instead of construction paper.
  • Other tree denizens: squirrels, birds, vines, parasitic ferns, wasps, monkeys.
  • Other tree accessories: bird feeder, tree house, tire swing.
  • Sticking real nuts (like acorns) on the branches.
  • Flowers (or mulch) around the base of the trunk.
  • Different shapes of leaves (and tree foliage) for different tree species. If we had one of those craft punches for maple or oak leaves, we'd have had so much fun.
  • Different colors of leaves in the fall.
  • Different fruit.
  • Different flowers.
  • Palm/Papaya type trees - long trunks and big leaves at the top.

Some interesting questions were asked, like,
"what sort of fruit tree do birds and bees
like to build nests in?"
A good discussion would have followed, had we not
had to stop to have lunch and drive Emily to school.

Some tips - if you do this with your own kids:
  1. Do as much of the prep work beforehand. Cut out enough leaves, fruit, animals etc. for everyone. Make nests, swings etc. Roll the trunks and cut the slits. Make the stands. Especially if you have several excited kids of varying ages, save just the leaf- or fruit-stitcking for the actual activity.
  2. White glue works well for sticking leaves and fruit and the kids got a lot of practice with glue control.
  3. Use a faster (and stronger) drying glue for the trunk. I used UHU, and I (not the kids) dispensed it.
  4. Let the kids tell you what animals live in the tree, where on the branches the leaves grow (let them look out the window at a real tree), what different shapes trees have, how much foliage the tree should have (sparse/dense). They have the best ideas!

And finally, a master materials-list (for each tree):
  • Three sheets brown construction paper (or similar)
  • Double-sided paper in different shades of green for leaves (construction paper works)
  • Double-sided paper in different colors for fruit, animals and other tree embellishments (or use foam sheets)
  • Tissue paper, shredded paper or fake grass for grass
  • Brown paper bag for beehive, crushed up
  • Natural raffia for nest
  • Scraps of foam sheets for eggs
  • String for swing
  • Corrugated cardboard (or balsa wood) for swing seat
  • Pliable cardboard for stand (a cereal box works well) or circular cheese box
  • Scissors
  • White glue
  • Strong craft adhesive
  • Craft (X-acto) knife


Happy Spring!



15 comments:

  1. What a fun mom you are! Love your trees!

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  2. seriously, i want to be a mom like you. wow!! thank you for your inspiration.

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  3. clever! and thanks for giving us so much info. i'll have to try this with my boys.

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  4. What a great trees. Looks like a lot off fun..

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  5. Those are the most fabulous fun trees ever! Seriously!

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  6. I've been reading your blog for some time now and been totally amazed by the stuff you get up to with your kids, but THIS post inspired me to say hello and thanks for all the great ideas. I might actually get round to doing this with my girl!!

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  7. I am a pre-k teacher and ver crafty person and I want you to know you ROCK! I am now a follower and cannot wait to get back to school ( knee replacement surgery 2 weeks ago) so I can make some of your great crafts!

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  8. Fantastic! Love the beehive. Wondering if this is doable for my daughter's second grade class... I mean, I know it's doable for *them,* don't know if *I* have the energy for all the prep work, though! :0) Thanks for the great idea.

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  9. Wow, I love trees. I do crafts with seniors with dementia and this will delight them. Thanks for the instuctions and added idea info. I am creative but really enjoy being inspiried by others. It is so gratifing when a senior asks, 'Can I take this home ?'.

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  10. I have just found your blog and love the trees. I remember doing something similar when I was kid but had forgotten all about it till now! We will be making some autumn (fall) versions as I am in NZ and that is our current season. Thanks for the cool idea, now off to look at some more of your crafts.
    Sarah Craftylocks

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  11. I'm back again! I was inspired made some trees too - but quite simple, and more shrubby type ones. We played with a few techniques like curling the branches/leaves as well as cutting extra slits. http://www.papercraftsforchildren.com/2010/06/06/paper-trees/. I also linked back to your post to show folk how to make some really cool ones:-).
    Thanks,

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  12. thanks for the idea

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