This week for art class I tried something new. Our neighbor cut down some branches and left them on our property. They’d been there a while, actually. We kept thinking they would clean them up. As I was staring at them from the kitchen window Monday morning I thought that I should really make a phone call. But then, a lightbulb went off in my brain. I’m quite certain it wasn’t an original thought (is there really such a thing anymore?) but maybe I could drag one of the branches inside and the kids could paint it for art class today? So I did it. Broke off a piece and put it on the art table. Voila! Easy peasy. I mixed some paints, put them around the branch and just hoped and prayed that the kids would think this was as brilliant as I did.
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Supply List for Painting a Branch:
Tempera paints (I mixed colors and added a little white to each for opaqueness, except for the gold and silver)
There are really no instructions, no rules. Other than, don’t splatter paint on other people on purpose, share the paints, and be kind!
After the branch was flipped over and painted on all sides, I brought out the glue and pom-poms to create some more texture. The glue got very drippy, which the kids loved, but it was all good because the tables were covered and everything is washable!
It’s hard to photograph such a long, skinny piece of art! After letting it dry overnight, I couldn’t wait to lean it against a wall. My own kids and even my husband were all like, “mom, that is so cool!”. I want to figure out how to hang it from the ceiling. How awesome would that be?
I love collaborative art with little kids. It’s such a good way to foster teamwork and social awareness. Sharing with your neighbor, listening to conversations, taking turns and complimenting another’s work are very important skills for the little ones to acquire. What better way to learn these important character traits than through art?
Let me know if you try this one!
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I can’t wait to do this with my daughters.
I would hang with command hooks and fishing line 😉
thanks gretchen, great idea!! i will try the command hooks. and send me a photo is you do this! xo bar
I was thinking eye hooks and fishing line… Very neat idea that I’m going to have to borrow!
yes! great idea April…let me know how that goes 🙂 xo bar
Thank you for sharing these beautiful ideas! I am going out on our property now to find the perfect branch for my preK Art enrichment class tomorrow!!!
What a wonderful idea. As far as displaying it you could mix up a batch of cement and add it to a self painted matching pot, of course, and as the cement starts to harden place the thicker end deep into the pot. I’d label mine “A tree grows in Brooklyn “
OH WOW!!! This is simply amazing!! I’m so inspired right now!!! They seem to be having such fun!! And they’re working together to achieve a common goal! That’s just great! I love it! I’m pinning it! Thanks for sharing!
thank you for pinning and sharing!! xo bar
I am so glad I stumbled across this idea! I think I’m also going to gibe my boys some embroidery thread in fun colors to wrap around sections of the branches for added texture. This is BEAUTIFUL and crazy fun for all ages! Seriously. My kids are crazy if they think I’m not joining in a little!
I love this so so much. These pictures are like painted glass. I love them! And the project itself is so beautiful and inspiring. We are doing a variation of this and then turning it into sculpture…somehow. Who knows. We’ll see. Thanks for the continuing the inspiration. I just love this! The pom poms looks gorgeous too. Hang it from the ceiling for sure!!!
Oh now I know what we will do with our bare naked stick in the middle of the living room. It has been bothering all of us. That looks amazing.
yay!!! show me pictures when you paint it, would love to see! thank you for stopping by, birute! xo bar
thanks for the idea! we painted our hiking sticks today. how do i post pics to show you?
awesome!!!! email them to me at email@example.com. can’t wait to see! xo bar
Just came across this on Pinterest & I LOVE it! Happen to have quite a few fallen branches in my yard. Went outside, collected them & put them in my car. I know what we’re doing for art tomorrow in preschool!
ahhh!! i’m so happy to read that you put branches in your car!! that is awesome. have so much fun painting. and to extend the experience even longer you can bring out new things to glue on after the painting is done. we used pom-poms, but you could also use fabric scraps, ribbon, yarn…or even glitter. have so much fun!! and thank your or leaving a comment, sheri. xo bar
What a great idea!! You could hang it from the ceiling. Turn it into a mobile–have the kiddos make things to hang from it.
yes! i really wanted to hang it from the ceiling, that was my original plan. but since the classes are in my living room, with a plaster ceiling, i couldn’t figure out how to hang it without hiring a handyman (my husband is not that guy). but it’s a great idea. thanks for leaving a comment, steph! xo bar
I love it!! You are so creative… congratulations. we’re a school in Guatemala Central America.
welcome miriam from guatemala!!! it’s wonderful that you found me, thank you for leaving a comment!! xo bar
Thank you for sharing your beautiful work with the children. It is so beautiful and the simplicity made it so special and unique. thanks again. Debz
thank you deb!! i agree that it’s sometimes the simplest things that are the most beautiful. and any time i can combine nature with art is a good thing. thank you for leaving a comment! xo bar
International Elf Service
I really love this idea. So much so I’ve had to share it. Absolutely beautiful and I can imagine the kids absolutely loved doing it! Thank you so much for sharing x
thank you for leaving a comment and sharing! and yes, the kids loved it. when they came to class and saw a giant branch on the table, they pretty much fell over. being four, they thought it was so funny. and there is something about a collaborative experience that keeps the kids engaged even longer. they are all working on one common goal. it was a great day. xo bar
A small one would look really cool horizontally as the top of a mobile, with butterflies or birds hanging off it.
yes, that would be so cool! i love the idea of ladybugs 🙂 thank you, clara, stopping by and leaving a comment! xo bar
This one would be cool with a bird on the branch, butterflies hanging off of it, lady bugs or ants climbing up it…
This is a great idea, and perfect timing for us. We have a large branch that fell during a winter storm that we are finally able to clear out this weekend. i’l have to find the perfect branch off of it for this project.
oh good!! i’m so glad you found my blog and will be able to paint your own branch. let me know how it goes! xo bar
Thank You for the great idea:D I used it working with my preschoolers:) Greetings from Poland!
hello anna, welcome! thank you for leaving a comment, and i hope your preschoolers enjoy painting their own branch! xo bar
Thank You for the great idea. I used it working with my preschoolers:) Greetings from Poland!
What a brilliant idea! This is definitely my next art project. Love the idea as I can teach another life skill to my KG class. Thanks for sharing.
you’re welcome, report back on how it goes. thank you for leaving a comment Memery! xo bar
thanks for your ideas thank you once again
Thanks for the inspiration. I’ve been looking for the perfect branch and found it thanks to a huge crepe myrtle tree. Left a note in a stranger’s mailbox asking if I could have the mini tree in her front yard! She called me back, I barely got it in my van (yes, it’s THAT long and wide) and we painted today. Loved hearing the comments of the early arrivals about the bizarre branch in the hallway. I will definitely send a picture after we get it hanging. I am envisioning caterpillars, bugs and butterflies hanging from it from the ceiling. There was paint in hair and on shoes but it was a messy success!!!
ha! what a great story. and that sounds so wonderful…the caterpillars and butterflies. please do send me pictures, i would love to see them!! i might even add a section at the end of this post with photos from around the world. thanks for leaving a comment, Suz! xo bar
Love this! Thanks for the great idea. I think it would also make a cool “chandelier” – you could hang it off the ceiling with Christmas Tree or patio lights wrapped around it. I think I might even tape or plaster the lights to the branch so that when the stick is painted you don’t see the cord… Thank you again!
ooh, what a wonderful idea with the lights. i love that!! thanks for leaving a comment, elizabeth, and show me pictures if you do this!! xo bar
This is perfect! As the ECE in a special-needs preschool class I’m always looking for new art ideas. Our kiddos love to paint, and this allows for sensory and nature, too! There’s already a spot for it in our room. I think I’m going to find other sticks (shorter, and of different lengths) to hang from our big stick. So excited!!!
thank you for leaving a comment, Leah. I’m so glad you found me and that my branch project inspired you to do the same!! i love the idea of different sized sticks. please send me pictures if you do it!! xo bar
I have been brainstorming ideas for a VBS project that the kids could bring into the sanctuary the following Sunday that would include all skill levels, represent what we did during the week, and be visually stunning… you know, a simple wish 😉 Then your wonderful branch popped up in my pinterest feed! I adore adorned sticks! Thank you for bringing all of my ‘wants’ for this project together so succinctly. During craft time, our kiddos are going to use several mediums to decorate branches that we will seal, then assemble into a cross for them to carry in and present to the congregation as they talk about all of the fun we had during VBS week.
hi rachel, thank you for leaving a comment. i love that my branch project inspired so much in you! your ideas for a branch cross are fantastical! please sent a photo if you can 🙂 firstname.lastname@example.org. thank you! xo bar
Great post. Feeling inspired! Thinking I might put ours in a pot in the garden and hang garden decorations and tealights from it. Might look weird, but we won’t know until we try and we’ll have fun doing it. Thanks from the UK 🙂
hi sally, thank you for leaving a comment! and i love your idea of putting your branch in a pot with some lights. send me a photo if you do actually make this happen! xo bar (PS: weird is good)
Great idea getting the kids to create something together. Definitely need to try this one.
kids love collaboration because it’s very social. let me know how it goes, and thanks for leaving a comment!
It is a great idea.
I did it today with 24 kindergartens and 3 branches. A little messy but lots of fun!!
oh how wonderful Pilar!! if you have any photos I would love to see them. you can email me at email@example.com. thank you for leaving a comment, i’m so glad you were inspired! xo bar
I will try this one for sure. The important peice here: working together, getting to know each other!
yes! it’s so true, this one is truly perfect for cultivating that social aspect and for fostering a sense of teamwork. thank you for you comment Eileen! xo bar
I have a bare corner in my classroom. Thinking of doing this project and “planting”it in a pot for the corner.
oh, good. I hope you do Michelle!! Send me a photo if you do, and I love the planting idea! xo Bar
Lovely idea thanks will try this with my nursery children, team work thanks .
This is such a beautiful and simple idea. I live in an area with lots of woods and I am constantly bringing home branches, pinecones, feathers, stones. I love the way the children were adorning and ‘dressing up’ the tree branch. I it looks to me that the branch enjoyed her makeover just as much as the children enjoyed playing with her. She stands very bright, bold, delicate and proud. And such a stunning piece of artwork/ sculpture for the home. Terrifically unique and one of a kind. I am truly inspired. Thank you for this idea.
thank you, Verite, your words mean everything to me! i love how you call out branch “she”. it’s true, and she still stands bold and proud in our living room. she’s been knocked down a few times by my hockey-playing son, but no damage done. she just gets right back up. thank you for visiting and leaving a comment! xo bar
I love this idea. I had my nieces and son each paint a big branch. They loved it and each one is unique. My son just happened to choose the colours of his room and the branch turned out stunning. I think I will suspend it from his ceiling and display crafts from it to celebrate the seasons. For fall, I was thinking, leaves, acorns, squirrels etc. For Winter, snowflakes, icicles etc. For Spring, new buds, blossoms etc. For summer, caterpillars, lady bugs, butterflies etc. It will be lots of fun and a great way to display his beautiful creations and decorate his room. Wondering if anyone, has suggestions on what I use as a varnish or cover on the branch. We just painted it with tempera paints. The colours are gorgeous and vibrant but would like to preserve them.
What a wonderful idea, Tracey!! I have always wanted to hang our branch. Ours is year old now and we used tempera paints too and the colors are just as vibrant. But I would say if you want to protect the branch, maybe some mod-dodge. That’s what I would do. Send me a photo of the branch hanging in your son’s room, i’d love to see!! xo bar
I love this idea! Can I ask how many days you had the students spend on this? I’m looking for a two day project and this looks like it could potentially be done.
hi jenna, thanks for stopping by and asking this great question! the kids spent one class period on this (1 hr) but i’ve had many people email me that they did this project and left it out for several days as the kids added more elements. you could start with paint, then add tissue paper or fabric scraps, the glitter and pom-pons. how fun! please let me know how it goes 😉 xo bar
You could hang it with fishing line.
I want to do this for a parents day out activity! If I have enough kids we will do it and I’ll send you a pic!
I love the colors that you mix for your projects!
hi Ann, please do send a picture if you do it!! you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. and thanks for the compliments…so happy to inspire! xo Bar
A beautiful blog. I love your thought processes behind it. As a preschool teacher I’m always thinking of ideas with everything I see.
I’ll definitely be trying this with my new group of children. I’m wanting to focus on reconnecting with nature in a big way this year.. The Pom poms added makes it delightful! I’ll be sharing!
Thank you ☘
thank you Shaney!! I really appreciate your kind words, and I’m so happy you find my branch idea inspiring. send my some photos if you do do it, I’d love to see!! xo Bar
I did this today with my Sunday School class(k-2nd). When I told them we were going to paint a stick- I got some funny looks- from the kids & my co-teacher. In the end, they were all impressed, there was even talk of “we could sell these” 😉 I do an art class once a month at my son’s school and I’ll be doing this one next time.
thank you for sharing this with me, Kristin. I’m SO happy that you tried it and that the kids ended up loving the experience!! I find that children really love anything that is different and out-of-the-ordinary when it comes to making art. kudos to you for giving it a whirl!! xo Bar
I love your colorful stick! I want to try it with my kindergarten kids in their color groups. Instead of hanging it from the ceiling, I would “plant ” them in their group color pot.
I did this in my classroom with 4 branches. At first the kids didn’t understand why we were painting tree branches but then they enjoyed it. Perfect art project to wrap up our colors unit.
I’m so glad you tried this project, Carrie! my kids felt the same way when they first saw the branch, but now their minds have opened up to the endless possibilities when combining nature + art! xo bar
My three boys (6, 4, and 4) tried this today and then sprinkled sequins in a rainbow of colors over the wet paint. It looks beautiful!
how fantastic, Royall!!! I would love to see that! Send me a photo at email@example.com if you have time. Thanks for leaving a comment! xo Bar
Love this, I’m going to try making a Christmas tree using this idea, the children will paint the branch (tree) then we plan on adding green handprint leave then add tree decoration that the children will make then finish off with a few purchased items, hopefully we can have it ready for 1 December for the building our preschool is based in, it’s going to be in the entrance
I adore this idea! I’m going to use it as part of my preschool art gallery display that we are doing in December! Can’t wait to see what my kiddos will do with it!!
I work in a jewish preschool and after the events of last weekend I decided to do this with the children and we call it our Unity Branch. I have 16 foot ceilings and I hung it up. It rotates like a mobile and its beautiful. Thanks for the great idea.
What a beautiful idea. I’m so happy to know that my work inspired your Unity Branch. Thank you!! xo Bar
I am studying Diploma in Early childhood education and care. my assignment is about Nurture creativity in children.
would it be ok if I used this activity and used one of the photos that does not have any children in it please? I will reference it back to your website to show where it came from.
hi Rebecca, yes that’s fine! you can use a photo and link back to my blog. thank you for asking, and best of luck!! xx Bar
I’ve been working my way through your projects with my kids and having so much fun! They loved this branch painting project! Thanks for all the great inspiration.
Oh I’m so glad to hear this! Thanks for leaving a message! xx Bar
I love this activity. Looking forward to doing this at MiMi camp this summer for my 5, 4, 3, and 2 year olds that spend a few days at MiMi camp. Painting is always one of our activities.