Geometric Paper Christmas Tree Art Project for Kids

On November 6, I broke my foot practicing a ballet number I was supposed to perform at my studio’s preschool recital of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas. The kind of fracture I have is actually referred to as the dancer’s break as it is very common injury for dancers.

The last 6 weeks have definitely been challenging from a professional, personal, and parenting stand point as I try to keep up with everything in an air cast. I’ve had lots of ups and downs but have tried to focus on small successes to remain positive as I heal and rehabilitate. I miss dancing A LOT, but have been using my time to focus on other projects and trying to enjoy the time with my girls.

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year and I always try to make it special for the girls through baking and crafting. The challenge this year is that I can’t drive with my broken foot, so any activities we have been doing rely on materials I can ask my husband to pick up from the grocery store or that we already have in our art supplies.

What I have been reminded of over the past few weeks is that my girls couldn’t care less about fancy supplies; all they care about is that I take the time to create with them, something I’ll admit hasn’t been happening as frequently as they get older and are creating their own arts and crafts on their own independently. While this is a very positive development in their own self- motivated creativity, I have to remember how important it is for me to carve out time with them each week. This time is about continuing to build the foundation of our relationship.

This project was inspired by two similar projects I came across the past few weeks. One was a picture Kelly (our guest blogger the past few months) posted on Instagram of a paper tree her daughter decorated with washi tape (a supply I want to pick up once I can drive again). The other is this project I found on Pinterest from Whatever…

This project is a great way to use up any extra scrapbooking paper you have in your art supplies. It is also a fun way to explore shapes and representational art with your kids.

What You Need
· Strips of scrapbook paper cut to various lengths

· A piece of red (or whatever color you choose) construction paper

· Craft glue

· Stickers (we used left over mosaic tile stickers from a various craft sets we have been given over the years)

Parent Prep
I precut all of the strips of paper using my scrapbooking paper cutter. You could also freehand cut these strips with scissors or use a self-healing mat, ruler, and scoring knife. If your kids are older, they could also cut the paper strips themselves.

Making Your Trees
To start, I asked the girls what shape a Christmas tree is. Bria (age 7) said a cone, which reminded me how much she has learned over the last few years. I told her she was right, but if we needed to draw a tree, what 2D shape might be use. She said a triangle.

Next I asked Malia (age 5) what part of a Christmas tree is biggest. She said the bottom. Finally I asked the girls how we might try to create a triangular Christmas tree using rectangular strips of paper. They figured out pretty quick they could create the a tree shape by layering shorter strips of paper on top of longer ones as they moved up.

I asked them to layout the tree shape on their paper before we glued the strips down. This was a great way to explore length and support spatial awareness skills. Malia said this was like a puzzle as she was trying to find a shorter strip of paper to keep building her tree. I thought that was an insightful comparison.

We did have a conversation about how the top of a tree is normally triangular and how the tops of their trees were squares. This was a great lead into another conversation about abstract and representational art. We talked about how sometimes we create realistic art, where our goal is to make whatever we are creating look as much like the real thing as possible. Representational art takes an idea and creates an idea of it in a new way.

Representational art can sometimes be tricky for younger children who developmentally are still trying to create concrete meaning of their world. It is not abnormal for preschoolers to be resistant to art that doesn’t look “right” in their minds. However, my girls are older now, and they enjoy the challenge and freedom representational art provides.

After the girls had laid out their paper strips in a tree shape, they began gluing them down. We talked about what might be the best way to do this step. Bria suggested starting from the bottom and working your way up so your pieces didn’t get mixed up. So that’s what we did.

When all the strips were glued down, we decorated our tree with the mosaic tile stickers. Malia mentioned that normally she would want circle stickers because that is the shape Christmas balls are, but that is was ok to use squares because it matched our rectangles better. I thought this comment was perhaps a reflection of her inner struggle with representational versus realistic art and her way of justifying to herself what she was creating.

Bria was determined to create a star for her tree using the tile stickers. I thought it was great she came up with this concept on her own and it inspired Malia and I to create our own tree toppers. This isn’t something I would have done on my own and was another great reminder of the value of creating together. I also loved how Bria added tiles coming off her star to represent the light shining outward.

Bria decided to give her picture to her teacher for Christmas, and Malia insisted hers be put up on the art display board in the girls’ room.

I really love how this project turned out, the great conversations it inspired about shape and art, and most importantly, the time we spent together creating our art.