Decorating a tree is not just for the holiday season! Today we’re embracing that popular and enjoyable activity, but swapping out the Christmas bulbs and colorful lights for a more natural look in this Decorate a Tree Loose Parts Play activity. We’ll be adding leaves of paper, fabric, yarn, wood, and more to create beautiful foliage on some found branches.
This creative play activity combines two of my favorite things: Art and Nature! It’s the perfect time of year to head outside and be inspired by the trees all around you. This is a wonderful activity to work on fine motor skill development as well as hand-eye coordination. Those little fingers are sure to get a workout as we pinch, hook, attach, tie, and layer an array of art materials. So let’s gather up some branches and get started.
Get a full week of tree theme lesson plans for Home Preschool or your Preschool Classroom.
What is Collaborative Art?
This activity can be used to promote and engage in collaborative art. Children can practice taking turns and complimenting one another while working together in pairs or in a group to problem solve and accomplish a common goal. This collaborative play activity is certain to improve social skills and can also act as a mirror to one’s strengths and challenges. It’s a wonderful opportunity for children to learn from their peers and model appropriate behaviors. Collaborative art promotes oral communication, teamwork, compromise, and patience. So let’s work together to create artwork that celebrates art and nature!
Build a Tree Supplies:
- Vase or similar container
Any of the following can be used to decorate the tree:
- Green jumbo wooden beads
- Green jumbo straws
- Large and small clothespins
- Pipe cleaners
- Green construction paper
Step by Step Directions for the Decorate a Tree Loose Parts Play Activity
Step 1: Build the Tree!
Let’s gather up our materials! Begin by searching for some twigs or small branches from the yard. Put them into a small mason jar or vase. Filling the container with rocks will help secure the sticks into place.
Step 2: Gather the Foliage!
This is an excellent time to use up those art supplies that were leftover from a previous craft project. Old green yarn, random wooden beads, discarded clothespins, leftover jumbo straws, and pipe cleaners will be perfect!
Optional Drawing Activity: Draw different shape leaves on green paper. Cut them out and use a hole punch at the top of each leaf. The paper leaves will be a nice addition to our nature tree.
Step 3: Let the Decorating Begin!
Let the children choose the materials they wish to add to the tree. They can tie the yarn, attach the clothespins, twist on the pipe cleaners, slide on the beads and straws, or hook on the paper leaves. Which supplies do they gravitate towards the most? Which supplies are the most challenging to attach? Which are the easiest?
Clean Up: Leave the tree up for as long as you wish. When you’d like to take it down save the supplies to use for additional creative play activities.
Tips for Observing Collaborative Art:
- How are the children interacting?
- Are they problem solving and learning from their peers?
- How is conflict being resolved?
Additional Ways to Extend this Loose Parts Play Activity
Take some time to investigate and observe the environment around you. What color leaves do you see? Use a magnifying glass to examine each leaf. Can you locate the veins on the leaf? Are the leaves symmetrical?
Can you identify the tallest tree and the smallest tree in the yard? Find a tree with a skinny trunk and compare/contrast it to a tree with a thick trunk.
Touch the bark on the tree. How does it feel? Identify the texture. Is it rough, smooth, bumpy, or soft?
Art and Literacy:
I recommend the book The Busy Tree by Jennifer Ward to accompany this art activity. The book identifies specific parts of a tree such as the roots, trunk, bark, leaves, and acorns. It also introduces the reader to a variety of animals that find shelter in trees.
Related Book List: Books About Trees
I hope your children enjoy this collaborative art activity that integrates art with nature. Interacting with one another and the world around us, while creating art together, can be a wonderful learning experience.
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MORE TREE THEME ACTIVITES
Visit the tree theme planning guide for more hands-on learning and playful activity ideas.
Get a Full Week of Tree Theme Learning and Play
Save time and get right to the playful learning with our printable lesson plan sets. Each set includes over 30 playful learning activities related to the theme, and we’ve provided different versions for home preschool families and classroom teachers so all activities are geared directly toward your needs.
This set includes active hands-on learning ideas and the following printables:
1) Uppercase and Lowercase Alphabet Matching Tree Activity
2) Colorful Trees Sorting Mats
3) Tree Color Word Building Mats
4) Tree Addition Game
5) Tree Beginning Sound Sort (for sounds /t/, /r/, and short /e/)
6) Tree Dice Game
7) Uppercase Tree Alphabet Cards
8) Lowercase Fruits, Seeds, and Flowers Alphabet Cards
9) 0-35 Tree Number Cards
10) Shape Cards (for hands-on shape activities)
11) Tree Word Family Sort (for -an, -op, -it, and -ug)