Coffee Sleeve Tree – Arbor Day Craft

Arbor Day is Friday and what better way to celebrate trees than by making one with recycled paper products? When I got a coffee a few weeks ago and I got one of these great sleeves I knew I’d have to use it for a craft.  I love all the textures that are present in this project and how simple it is so kids can make their own tree with little if any adult guidance.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need 2-4 coffee sleeves ( or other recycled cardboard), scissors ( we also used pinking shears), glue and a large piece of paper.  We also used a pencil crayon to write our name on the back.
  2. Start by writing your name on the back – this is just a practical way of working writing into art time in a natural way. No need to sit kids down and practice just get them to label things as they make them.
  3. Cut the sleeves open and cut pieces to make a trunk.
  4. Cut leaves. We did this together it was the first time he’s used the big scissors… mine aren’t super sharp.
  5. Add glue.
  6. Add your cut pieces. His attention was lacking and I almost gave up, then I suggested he treat it like a puzzle and boom that was the magic word, all of a sudden he was into it. The funniest part was when he put the “leaf” with Starbucks printed on it , he said ” We need to put Starbucks in the middle so everyone can get their latte.” Yeah that’s what Arbor Day is all about, 4 dollar lattes.
  7. Let dry. Didn’t it turn out to be gorgeous? I didn’t expect it to be half this awesome, it’s easily my favorite tree craft we’ve ever made and I kinda have a thing for trees.




Leaf Rubbing Tree

Fall is in full swing around here, between the pumpkins creeping up on porches in my neighborhood to the bursts of  red, yellow and orange everywhere I had to make a leaf rubbing craft. I have to be honest my son was only kinda into this craft. He liked doing the rubbing the first few times and then after that the only thing he wanted to do was be the tape guy! We often put a craft down and return to it at our leisure, or sometimes ditch it forever. Forcing kids to do art defeats the purpose no one is creative or learning when they are forced to do anything.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a paper towel roll, some white paper, scissors, tape,  crayons in fall colors with the paper removed and leaves from your garden.
  2. Start by going outside and finding some fun leaves , bringing them in and pat them dry if needed.
  3. Place the leaves vein side up under a  piece of paper – for my son I taped the leaves onto a paper so they wouldn’t shift when he was trying to do the rubbing. This is where I lost him, after one exposure to the tape and well tape was all he wanted to do.
  4. Rub your crayons over the paper and watch the magic leaf appear! You can see I still had to hold his paper steady.
  5. Cut them out as you go.
  6. Time to tape. We used tape because it would be very tricky to glue with white glue and our glue stick was MIA. A glue stick would work nicely as long as you glued it horizontally and waited until it was dry to stand it up. 
  7. Attach all the leaves and stand up!

Books About Leaves

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert was the inspiration for this craft and will leave you trying to find all sorts of things like butterflies, chickens and fish in leaf piles. The book is about a leaf man who blows away in the wind and the reader is taken past all sorts of animals like chickens and ducks, past rivers filled with fish and butterflies in the air. All are leaves pieced together to make these awesome images , some are obvious, some take concentration to see the animal among the leaves. Wonderful creative book to welcome the changing seasons.

Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber is a beautifully illustrated , informative book that all all about leaves in autumn. It’s not the most exciting book but is a good teaching resource and tool when you are teaching your child about the changing seasons.  I can’t say this is a must read, but it’s useful and worth a look at your local library and will probably make you and your children want to jump in a few giant piles of leaves!

Lucky Leaf by Kevin O’Malley is a funny book about a boy kicked outside and off his video game by a parent and his quest for a lucky leaf. He waits and waits for the last leaf from a tree to fall, even after his friends give up and go home. The story is cute and my son thought it was funny. I liked the comic book format of the illustrations and the little boy’s dog has some pretty funny facial expressions throughout.

Need more leaf projects? It was my theme of the week over at Craftivity Corner my FamilyEducation.com blog !

Fall Art Project

fall crafts for kids

Need a fun art project for your older kids? This fall tree project is perfect. It’s somewhat time consuming for the careful or perfectionist child but dries quickly enough for those who are more impatient. Welcome fall into your house and or homeschool curriculum with this .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a canvas, painters tape, a sponge paint brush and paint.
  2. Start by taping the tree form. I ripped my tape into strips for the branches.
  3. I also made falling and fallen leaves with tiny pieces.
  4. Press down hard so paint won’t seep under.
  5. Start painting. I used all different fall colors and blended them.
  6. Let dry
  7. Peel off the tape carefully.

Need a fall themed craft for a younger child? Try this Fall Leaves Craft

Books About Fall

Fall Books For Kids

Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber is a beautifully illustrated , informative book that all all about leaves in autumn. It’s not the most exciting book but is a good teaching resource and tool when you are teaching your child about the changing seasons.  I can’t say this is a must read, but it’s useful and worth a look at your local library and will probably make you and your children want to jump in a few giant piles of leaves!

When_Autumn_Falls

When Autumn Falls by Kelli Nidey is a stunning book, the illustrations which are painted paper collages, by Susan Swan are so richly colored you will want more after turning the last page. The text is clever as well. Readers will discover that fall is well named not just because of falling leaves, but also pumpkins falling from the vines, temperatures falling, seeds falling from their leaves and even football players falling! The text is the perfect length for toddlers but not too short for preschoolers too.  Cute book for this time of year.

Great Acorn Mystery

Dot & Jabber and the Great Acorn Mystery by Ellen Stoll Walsh is a perfect fit for this activity!  The little mouse detectives Dot and Jabber are trying to figure out how a tiny oak tree has sprouted so far from the big one across the meadow. I love how this book excites my son about learning, he wants to figure out this mystery right along side the two little detectives. Isn’t that what science really is? A mystery to be solved? The mice do solve the mystery and a squirrel is involved but you will have to read the book for all the clues and details. I highly recommend this book , it’s engaging, visually beautiful and teaches about the life cycle of an oak tree effortlessly.

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Apple Orchard Craft

When my son read this book we started learning about apple orchards and the idea for this craft was born. My son is much more into digging in our backyard and building with legos than art these days but I knew I could entice him to create if it involved food coloring and medicine droppers… and I was right! He even asked his dad to take it to work and put it up in his office he was so proud of it.   There are a lot of steps for little guys in this craft but you can omit some easily and still make a fun apple tree!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need coffee filters, red and green food coloring, 2 eye or medicine droppers, ice cube tray, construction paper, markers, scissors, glue and popsicle sticks. You may also want to use a cutting board and some paper towels under the coffee filters to protect your work surface.
  2. Start by handing your child the construction paper and markers – have them draw the orchard , but make sure they know you will be gluing trees on top. We don’t want any meltdowns over covering their picture.
  3. Next layer the paper towels under the coffee filters.
  4. Pour the food coloring into your tray – I watered down the green but not the red.
  5. Start with the green food coloring on the coffee filters.
  6. Next add red. Let dry.
  7. While they are drying ( doesn’t take long in the sun!) have your child color the popsicle sticks with the brown marker.  This is great fine motor skills practice! My son decided to make a single line on each …one of which continued onto my table. Remember to use washable markers and a wet cloth nearby always keeps blood pressure low !
  8. Glue the sticks onto the construction paper.
  9. Cut the filters into tree tops.
  10. Glue on and let dry.

More Apple Books

Apple Picking Time by Michele Benoit Slawson  was not what I was expecting , it was so much more. I was expecting a basic book about picking apples at an orchard.  This book is anything but basic, it’s dreamy and while reading it I almost felt as thought I was back in time when a whole community would come to a stand still for something like apple picking.  The protagonist is Anna a little girl who works hard in the orchard along side her parents and grandparents . She isn’t as fast as her parents, but with hard work and the support of her family she reaches her goal and fills a bin! I loved this book,  I would suggest it for preschoolers and up.

The Apple Pie That Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson had me tricked into thinking that it was a new edition of an old book. The retro look to the illustrations hooked me and I was shocked to see it was only published 2 years ago. The reader is taken through all the elements that go into making a pie, not the recipe though. The story works backwards from pie to the apples, the tree, the roots and more . The message is one of interconnectedness and makes me feel equally important and small all at the same time. I think it’s useful to teach how everything in nature is dependent on other elements and can’t work alone. My son enjoyed the illustrations of the sun with a face and the little girl helping her father at every step.