Look at this amazing little cardboard tree forest!
If you could see my face photographing these upcycled trees you would see my literal heart-eyes beaming over how darling these are finished but also how much fun the process has been over and over and over and over with the kids. I started these trees with my Reggio preschoolers and (like most of my school projects) continued the art work at home with my own girls.
All I had to do for prep was cut out 60 cardboard trees. Do this in batches if you need to make a lot because your hand starts to cramp up!
We painted the trees at school with tempera paint. I mixed up some different greens and had white out for awhile (until it got mixed into another shade of green- totally fine!) and just handed over brushes. I didn’t want to direct their painting too much, just let them do what they wanted to do. It’s worth noting that I have taught my kiddos that cardboard HATES puddles and to keep the paint thin. See a puddle? Quick, move that paint around!
I do not have the luxury of time with my classroom kids. Our sessions are little tornados of fun but they are definitely short. I didn’t want to simply wait for these to dry so while they were drying my kids got stickers to put on first. They dry right into the paint which works well! It’s always fun to see some kids use materials like this methodically or in a pattern and others be a little more loose and random. If you know your kids you can probably predict who does what before they even begin.
After the stickers we used Elmer’s glue (just a dab will do ya!!) to add little parts. Gems, sequins, pom poms. You could add torn paper, tissue paper, hole punch dots, beads, wash tape, ribbon, pipe cleaners, yarn, string, twine..literally anything small and light!
If you’ve got lots of kiddos for this project try varying the size or shape of the trees. Think about how amazing they will be displayed in a little art forest arrangement, all standing tall together.
At home we’ve been getting even more into this process. We tried yarn wrapped neon trees (my favorite I think). This neon tempera paint is one of our most favorite art materials ever. To wrap the yarn easily make little notches on both sides of the cardboard tree. The chenille type yarn we used soaked up the paint really well!
The little girls really got into coloring in the spaces between the yarn with our Twistable Colors. Sally added water to hers but Gracie and Lilly did not.
Here are some more fun variations we keep creating at home because the kids are in love with this process. The green (and pink) trees are painted with acrylic.
Do yourself a favor- chop up and recycle those amazon prime boxes into your own mini forest! And grab a cup of coffee, your own sketchbook, or any other work you want to do because your kids will be occupied for hours.