Thanksgiving is right around the corner, so we made a Thankful Tree to talk about what we are thankful for. We started this in the beginning of the month, but it can be started any time. It can even be something fun to do together as a family on Thanksgiving Day. Or even any time during the year, because there isn’t a right or wrong time to talk about gratitude.
Thankful Tree Using Real Leaves and Twigs:
We love going on nature walks, but even right in our yard or on the way to the playground, we see many twigs and leaves fallen on the ground. So for this thankful tree, we chose to use use real sticks and fall leaves to bring the beauty inside. If these materials are hard to find around your house, you can still make this tree by using sticks and silk leaves from a craft store.
Pressing or Preserving Fall Leaves:
If you are using real leaves, you will need to choose a method of preserving them or else they will dry up, curl, and become brittle. I laminated mine because I might be a bit obsessed with laminating things (it’s like magic!) and they turn out very sturdy for my boys to play with and examine. If you don’t have a laminator, you can have a similar result by pressing the leaves in wax paper with an iron. I’ve done this and it works well. I’ve also just coated them in school glue, or just pressed them between paper and heavy books. There are many ways to do this and Red Ted Art has a great post on 6 different methods of preserving fall leaves. Just choose which one works best for you, and you’re ready to make your thankful tree!
- pressed or preserved leaves (or silk or paper leaves if real isn’t available)
- brown paper bag
- pipe-cleaner, sting, or ribbon
- sand (or another filling like rice, beans, or play dough)
- hole punch and scissors
How to make a thankful tree:
First, we filled a brown paper bag with sand. I just borrowed sand from our sand box, but you would also use rice, beans, play dough, salt dough, or anything with weight to help the tree stay in place. I used sand because it was safe my the little guys to help dump it in the bag. You may want to consider double-bagging the filling because some paper bags tear easily.
Next, we bundled the sticks how we wanted them to looks, and tied it off with pipe cleaners. You can also use string.
And then it was time to put in down into the sand, wrap the bag around it, and secure it with more pipe cleaners.
We then thought about what we were thankful for and wrote them on our leaves. These are some things my 4-year-old came up with.
To secure the leaves to the tree, we used more pipe cleaners, cut into smaller pieces, and bent into a hook shape.
I hole-punched the leaves the pipe-cleaner could attach to them. You could also just skip the pipe cleaner hooks, and simple slide the hole-punched leaves onto the stems.
We ended up attaching all of our leaves to the tree. We plan to take one off each day, write something we are thankful for, and put it back on the tree.
We currently have it as a centerpiece on the dining room table. I think this thankful tree will make a nice Thanksgiving decoration!