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Paper tree sculptures for kids

You need

2-4 daily newspapers
a pencil, dowel, or bamboo skewer for each worker (for rolling newspaper around)
1 roll of brown crepe paper
A few sheets of green construction paper.
Masking tape
Scotch tape


I'm a big believer in the power of hands-on building to develop math and science know-how. These activities work by giving kids endless, varied opportunities to solve problems related to shapes and structures - how to make them support weight, stay together, and stand up.

So I'm always on the lookout for cheap raw materials for kids to build with. This week, developing a tree workshop for the Jewish holiday Tu B'Shevat (the birthday of the trees), I came upon a great way to use rolled newspaper to build structures (or trees!). I especially love this because kids are recycling while they play.

How to make newspaper sticks

You take a large sheet of newspaper and roll it diagonally as tightly as you can. Start in one corner, making teeny-tiny folds until you get a roll started.

Or start by rolling newspaper around a pencil, thin dowel, or bamboo skewer, and then pull it out once you get the roll started.

Roll slowly and as tightly as you can toward the opposite corner diagonally, not letting any air space get in. When you get to the opposite corner, tape the corner down with a little piece of masking tape.

That will give you a strong little stick about 3 feet long and a half inch in diameter.

Making the tree trunk

Take a bunch of sticks and tape them together to make a tree trunk. You can help the trunk support the branches by inserting (at the top) a couple of bamboo skewers or a few craft sticks, taped end to end.

Wraping the branches

To make our sticks look like tree branches, we wrapped them in strips of brown crepe paper attached with scotch tape. Then we taped on leaves made from construction paper. We folded some in half to make v-shaped short branches.

As each branch was finished we added it to the tree trunk.

Adding roots and wrapping the trunk

We added roots at the bottom, made from newspaper sticks folded in half. Then we finished the tree by wrapping the trunk in the brown crepe paper strips.

Here's the finished tree.

It's a generic tree, but you could increase the Big Learning by trying to make it look like a particular species.




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