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Tree Crafts

Stick Fish
Supplies: sticks
wiggle eye
glue guns
construction paper or cardboard sheet, cut 81/2 X 51/
craft scissors
slice of a tree branch or trunk, "tree cookie" could be used (pruning shears needed to cut sticks to correct length)
Age Level: Preschool to Middle School, depending on degree of adult assistance available

This is a simple, inexpensive craft. A glue gun works better than liquid glue and for that reason adult assistance will be required. Adults should select sticks about the width of an adult's little finger and about 6 to 8 inches long. The trick to making this craft is to find sticks that have a slight curve to them.

Each child will also need a supply of twigs, one wiggle eye and a leaf or two. Glue the "backbone" to construction paper, cardboard, or a wood slice before the activity for young children. Older children can do all the gluing themselves. The children break the twigs to the same length and lay them across the "backbone" of their fish. Young children will need help gluing the "bones" in place at intervals along the backbone. The leaves can be used without cutting if they are pointed, or they can be notched with a scissors to form the head and tail of the fish. Glue the eye in place on the leaf.

CRAFT 2 "Tree Cookie" Picture Frame or mat
Tree Cookie Picture Frame or mat
Supplies: Pre-made inexpensive picture frame or mat
Mini "tree cookies," these will have to be cut by an adult
Glue guns or craft glue

Because each child may need up to 30 "cookies" there could be considerable amount of time needed to cut these, depending on how many children will participate. An adult using a reticulating electric saw can do this quite quickly. It might make an excellent end of the year service project for middle or high school students in a woodworking class. It is extremely helpful if the width of each "cookie" is kept approximately the same as the cookies are cut. A 1/4 inch is good. It will take someone's time to go out and find numerous tree branches of the same size to use to make the "cookies."

Store the "cookies" in an open container, or spread them out on newspaper to allow them to dry for a week or more, or they can quickly get moldy. To speed up the drying process, spread a single layer of "tree cookies" on a tinfoil-covered cookie sheet. Bake them in an oven at 200 degrees for two or three hours. They may darken as they dry.

Ages: Preschool to Middle School

This is an inexpensive craft and easy for children to do. However it could take considerable amount of volunteer time to select the appropriate branches and to make the "tree cookies."

Each child will need a picture frame or mat. These can be purchased from a craft store or mats can be cut out using an Ellison or Accu-cut die. Young children can use liquid glue, but the project will take time to dry. Older children could use a glue gun. The wooden discs are made by cutting thin slices of a branch that is about an inch or so in diameter.

It is best to have the children put the "tree cookies" in place around one edge of their frame or mat at a time and glue them only after an adult has checked to make sure they will all fit. An adult can help space them so that they fit well and end at the edge of the frame. It is easiest to work from the center out. Do one side at a time and work in order around the frame. An 5 by 7 inch frame will need about 30 "tree cookies."

Older children can add dried moss, birch bark, craft feathers or other nature items to the frame.


There are endless possibilities on creating bookmarks with a nature theme. This craft can be made using small pre-made fabric craft leaves or pre-cut paper leaves.

Supplies: Craft cardboard or tag board sections cut to dimensions of a bookmark, about 2 or 3 inches wide, pre-punch a small hole at the top of each bookmark
Scrap paper or cardboard cut in strips about 1/2 inch wide
Scrap paper or cardboard squares cut about 1 inch square
Glue sticks
Craft scissors with small pattern decorative edges
Pre-cut small leaves
Misc. decorative string, raffia, or cord, cut to lengths
AGES: Preschool through Middle School depending on the degree of difficulty involved with the design.

Allow each child to select a background bookmark and a contrasting strip. Depending on the age and skill of the children, allow them to use craft scissors to trim the edges of the bookmark and strip. Pre-cut these for young children. Depending on the size of the pre-cut leaves, select the appropriate number of leaves and squares to put on the bookmark.

Have the children glue the strip down the center or offset it on the bookmark. Then place the squares on the bookmark and put a leaf on each one. Show younger children how to offset the square on the strip. Allow older children to design their own placement. Once the placement is ready, glue one square in place and then add the leaf to the top of the square. Then move on to the other squares and leaves. Select an appropriate colors for the ties. Thread one end through the hole and tie in either a knot and let the ends hang down, or tie in a bow.

Twig Covered Candle

(This candle was purchased, but the concept is easy to replicate.)

Supplies: Small tin can or candle
Twigs cut to same length or sticks split down the length and cut to same lengths Glue Guns, and power strips
Raffia String to use a tie
Small shells, feathers, sprig of cedar, etc. to use as decoration
Pruning shears to trim sticks to size

(If half sticks are needed, an adult will have to cut them with an electric saw.)

(Candles may encourage children to use matches to light the candle, or to use the candle without supervision. Consider the age of the children involved in deciding to use candles or empty cans for this project. Discuss candle and fire safety if the project is done with older kids and candles.)

Age: Upper Elementary and Middle School
Whole Twig Project:

Children can help find small sticks to use for this project, but it is likely an adult will need to use a pruning shears to cut the sticks to the right length for the children.

Since each individual twig needs to be glued one at a time, it may be hard for children to share a glue gun. Start by making sure each twig is approximately the same length and matches the height of the can or candle. Each child will need about 20 sticks about 1/2 inch in width to cover a soup can or a candle with a width of about four inches.

Select thin, straight sticks with the same approximate width and height. Begin by applying a line of glue from the top to bottom of the candle or can. Work quickly to put the stick in place while the glue is warm. When it is time to place the last three or four sticks in place, put them in place without gluing them to assure that they will fit without leaving a gap. Adjust widths of the sticks as needed to finish the last section. Use a pruning shears to trim the tops if they are not even with the top of the can or candle. An adult will need to do this for younger children.

Wrap raffia around the sticks and tie it tightly in a bow, leave some of the string hang down. Insert decorative nature items like shells, moss, pieces of bark, a sprig of cedar or berries, flowers or small craft feathers behind the bow and glue in place.

The finished projects should be left in the air for several weeks to allow the sticks to dry.

Half Stick Project:

This process is the same when half sticks are involved, but it will require more preparation by adults before the project begins. Adults will need to find several branches of the same width and cut the branches with an electric saw into the same approximate length to match the height of the candle or can. Then the adult will need to slice each stick length in half running the length of the stick. Proceed with the directions above.

Twig Decorated Can

Follow the same directions as the candle instructions above. You can separate them if you want or just repeat the whole-stick instructions for this one.

Pine Cone Ball

(This craft was purchased, but the concept is fairly easy to replicate.)

Supplies: Styrofoam ball, 3 or 4 inches in diameter
Numerous small pine cones of different varieties (These can either be found in nature or purchased at a craft store.)
Glue guns
Pruning Shears or other sharp scissors to cut the pine cones
AGES: Upper Elementary or Middle School

To speed the process, an adult might want to cut the pine cones into different lengths from in half to about 1/4 in length. A glue gun will be needed throughout the project, so one per child would work best. Children look over the selection of pine cones and decide on a pattern they would like to use, gathering enough of that type of pine cone to complete the design.

A string to hang the ball can be made of cord, ribbon or twine. The children should make a loop of the cord and securely glue the knotted end to the top of the ball.

It might be easiest if they start with one complete circle around the center of the Styrofoam ball. They will need to cut the pine cones as they go along to the appropriate length. The pine cones will get shorter as the children work toward the top and bottom ends of the ball. As they work around the ball they should stop when they need to add about two or three more cones to close the circle. They may have to trim the edges of the pine cones to get them to fit. Then they should work one row above and one below the first row that is already in place. They continue until the entire cone is covered.

Older children might want to add craft berries, moss, flowers or other items to the ball.

Craft Stick Puzzle
Supplies: Wide flat craft sticks
rubber stamps, colored pencils, markers
Sticker selection of trees, flowers and woodland animals
Masking tape

(If stickers are used, an adult will need to use an Exacto knife, or razor blade to cut between each craft stick.)

AGES: Preschool through lower Elementary School

Adults will need to securely tape a string of several craft sticks tightly together edge to edge using masking tape in advance. The number needed depends on the height of the stickers involved. Select sticks that lay flat and with edges that can be fitted closely together. The tighter the sticks are held together the better this craft will work. Be sure to match up the ends of the crafts sticks on each side.

Each child is given one large sticker or a selection of stickers to make a woodland arrangement and a "mat" of craft sticks. The children work on the side that does not have the masking tape. They arrange their stickers with the backing still attached until they are happy with the arrangement. Then working with one sticker at a time, the children take off the backing and place the sticker on the sticks and rub it on to assure it adheres well to the craft sticks. Younger children may need help getting the backing off their stickers. Encourage children to place the stickers so that nothing important will be cut between each stick. Try to avoid cutting faces or eyes. If the children are able to write numbers, turn the puzzle over and number the sticks from the bottom to the top starting with 1.

An adult will then need to use a thin blade to cut the sticker between the craft sticks. A scissors will not work. The child can then peel the masking tape off the back of the puzzle, shuffle the pieces right side up, and try to put the puzzle back together again.


The preparation is the same as for the sticker puzzle.

Children can use a variety of outdoor living or camping rubber stamps, animal or animal track stamps, tree or flower stamps, or the whole group can use the same stamp. The sample shown here involved two stamps, one was a campfire and the other was a marshmallow on a stick. The ink pad can just be a simple black pad, or if a rubber stamping craft person is involved, they might be able to suggest many varieties to enhance the basic concept.

The sample here was stamped with black ink and then colored using colored pencils. Thin markers could also be used.

Once the design is completed and colored, flip the puzzle over and number the sticks in order using 1 at the bottom. Remove the masking tape. The sample here involves only three sticks and is extremely easy for very young children to put in order. This makes an excellent readiness activity as well as craft project. Older children will enjoy making the craft, even if the puzzle itself if relatively easy for them to put together.

Tree Cookie Pin
Supplies: Pre-cut "tree cookies"
Sticker or rubber stamp
Pin back with or without adhesive strip
Glue gun if using pin backs without adhesive strips
AGES: Preschool through Middle School

The most time consuming part of this project is making the "tree cookies." An adult needs to find tree branches about 2 to 3 inches in diameter. The branches are then cut diagonally to create a slice of the branch about 1/4 inch thick and about two or three inches long. The slices should form an oval, rather than a circle. This should be done by an adult with an electric saw. Middle and high school students in wood working classes might be willing to do the cutting as a service project.

The cookies should be dried in an open container for several weeks, or spread out on newspaper. To speed drying put a layer of "tree cookies" on a tinfoil lined cookie sheet and bake them at 200 degrees for about two or three hours. They may change color as they dry.

Each child selects a nature sticker that will fit on their "tree cookie" slice. Young children may need assistance with the selection to make sure it fits their "cookie" and in getting the backing off the sticker. Remove the backing and place the sticker in the center of the "tree cookie." Turn the "cookie" over.

Peel the backing off the adhesive pin back and adhere the sticky side to the back of the tree cookie. Again, young children may need help getting the backing off the adhesive part of the pin. If pin backs are used that do not have adhesive, an adult will need to use a glue gun to attach the pin back to the "cookie." Once the pin is on the back and the glue is cooled, the child can wear the pin.

Older children might enjoy using small rubber stamps with black ink pads to stamp a design on their pin. They may need to use a fine tipped black marker to go over the outline of the stamp if it is not dark enough on the wood. Or they may want to use fine tipped markers to color in the image they stamp on the pin. Older children could also glue on tiny objects they find on a nature walk to make their pins.

"Tree cookies" are interesting things for young children. They might love taking a larger plain "cookie" home with them. They can talk about the bark on the outside and the rings on the flat surface of the "cookie." Trunk sized cookies would delight older kids.