November 5, 2013

Gratitude Tree Tutorial


I found this image of a Thanksgiving tree on Pinterest at least 2 years ago. I think it was mid-November and I figured it wasn't worth starting halfway through. Then last year I forgot completely until the end of the month. This year I was determined to remember and I did! Late in the afternoon on November 1st :) But hey, that was still time enough.

Now I realize to be a good blogger I should have gotten this up immediately so that you too could start at the beginning of the month. Well, I'm not that good but the 5th still isn't too late! You can whip this project up in an hour or so, and start from today. 25 days of gratitude is still pretty awesome.

I was planning on doing this with just construction paper but when I was rummaging around the dollar store the other day I came across a roll of brown craft paper meant for wrapping packages before shipping them. It was far easier to tape one huge piece of paper up and freehand a tree shape than to use brown construction paper and make it in pieces. For the leaves, I just used red, yellow and orange construction paper and traced leaves out.

Now for the important part-the instructions! (The pictures are from my iPhone, so excuse the quality, but it was way easier to get quick shots as I worked than pretty ones.)

Begin by taping a long piece of craft paper to the wall using blue painters tape. Beginning at the bottom, freehand a tree with a tall trunk and lots of little branches. You'll want enough space up there to hold 30-odd leaves. I can barely draw a stick figure, and I still managed to make something that vaguely resembles a tree, so don't worry about this part. You can do it! Use a pencil and erase and re-draw until you have something you like.

Next you'll need to take it off the wall and cut it out. Once that's done, I hung it back up using folded painter's tape (masking tape or mounting putty would work great too-use what you've got!)

Now it was time to make the leaves. I found this template of maple leaves on Pinterest and used the largest one to trace 30 leaves in various colors of construction paper. Then my oldest son and I spent a fairly tedious 20 minutes cutting them all out. If you have more than one child and want them all to have their own leaf each day-more power to you, but I'm good with all of us sharing.

I adore owls, so I couldn't resist adding one to the tree. (It's the symbol of Athena and Harry Potter's pet-how can you not love them??)  I searched for owl coloring pages on Pinterest and let the boys pick the one they liked the most and then color it in. Then I glued it to a piece of black construction paper and trimmed it until it looked like a hole in the tree trunk with the owl peeking out.

We arranged all the blank leaves around the bottom of the tree (again with the painter's tape) so it looks like they've all fallen. Each afternoon, we pick a leaf and then I write what we are thankful for that day and hang it up on a branch. By the end of the month we will have a tree full of leaves to remind us how much we have to be thankful for.

I've been surprised how much the boys are enjoying this. Every afternoon after school they run straight to the tree and talk about what they want to write. Now I realize this is only day 5, but if the excitement lasts halfway through the month I will be overjoyed. In the meantime, it's really getting the boys thinking about the important part of the holiday season and they are getting a hint of perspective of how lucky we really are. I hope some of you try this project! If you do-take a picture and send it to me or tag me in it on Instagram!

Do you do any thankfulness projects this time of year? What's your favorite that you've seen or done?

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