O, Christmas Tree
To start this off I thought I would share a simple activity we did the other day in anticipation of the holiday season. What is fantastic about this, is that it encourages the child to create something out of nothing, providing them the opportunity to make choices about what THEY want. It is frustrating as a toddler when all of their choices seem to be already made for them that when you give them an opportunity to make choices they are ecstatic!O, and did I mention that it costs nothing? That's right, nothing. All you are doing is recycling old paper and catalogs instead of throwing them away! If your child really takes to this project you can do multiple, miniature ones and turn them into handmade Christmas cards.
Supplies you will need:
- Large sheet of paper (depending on how big you want it to be)
- Christmas catalogs or advertisements
- Paint (optional)
- Paintbrushes (optional)
Prepare the stack of inevitable Christmas catalogs you received in the mail throughout November.
Yes, November. Because it is clearly never to early for commercialism and consumerism.
Tear out all the pages with Christmas trees and let your child pick their favorite pages as well. Eve obviously went straight for the toy catalogs and I scored some awesome ornaments from our Canadian Tire catalog.
Find a large piece of white (or colored) paper that you will be gluing everything onto. We decided to avoid white so that the snow flakes we would paint on later would show up. Unfortunately the only large paper we had handy was gray but I'm sure a nice blue or even black would look great.
The paper size is ultimately up to you and how you would like the finished creation to look. You could create multiple small pieces or pull out a huge bristol board to go all out.
IF you trust your child with scissors then this is a great time to let them focus on cutting out their desired ornaments. While Eve did this I began to put the tree together. You will want to find as many trees listed for sale and cut all of them out, then make your own tree collage in the shape of a, you guessed it, Christmas Tree! An older child can help you create the tree, in Eve's case all she wanted to do was cut out as many toys as possible. If for some reason Christmas trees are in short supply you can always color or paint a tree onto the paper.
If your child is a bit to young for scissors then let them continue to look through the pages and decide which ones to use while you prep the tree and do the cutting.
Once you have the tree base glued down let your child go wild! Remember, this is their opportunity to make choices and feel in control so make sure to let them. I had to bite my tongue when Eve decided her reindeer were to live on the tree. It doesn't matter if it didn't make sense to me, to her it made complete sense and she was completely right, why couldn't they?
(Eve was so excited she began gluing ornaments down before I had even finished the tree)
If you haven't already drawn in a tree stump (or made one using paper) then now you can paint one on instead. Break out the paints and add a snowy scene by brushing white paint across the bottom. If you have completed the tree and will have no more ornament additions then grab your paintbrush and carefully flick white paint onto your creation to make snowflakes. I find it works best to mix a little bit of white paint with water and tap the brush on the back of your hand over the piece, this will create looser snowflakes.
What is great about this project is that you can make multiple, smaller ones to give as handmade Christmas cards!
This is only the first one Eve and I made together, I would definitely like to try another one where she can draw or paint on some ornaments. All week she has been proudly showing off, to anyone who visits, her own personal Christmas Tree that is hanging on our wall. Sometimes all a child wants is to feel like they can make their own choices and be allowed to. Eve thrives when she is given those opportunities and delights in knowing she made something from a pile of loose magazines.
If you try this out send me a photo of your creation, I would love to see it and share it to the other readers! Just send the photo to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @RuthOosterman