This spring art for kids was a huge hit with my preschoolers.
Process art is one thing all preschoolers love, and it is so good for them, too! The possibilities within process art are limitless! Recently, the preschoolers explored art through painting and decorated tree branches for a spring theme process art activity.
And, I might add, it makes a pretty creative “bouquet” for Mother’s Day, too!
We did this spring art for kids as part of our spring theme. What I love about this project is that it takes several days to complete. That’s a valuable thing because so much of what preschoolers expect is instant gratification. So this art project is a new way to teach preschoolers the discipline of working long and hard on the same thing. You can spend up to two weeks doing this tree process art activity.
The pretty tree branches just lit up the room and it is so fun to see them decorating our preschool room. But, shhhh. . . these are actually going to be our Mother’s Day gifts this year.
Make Your Own Decorated Tree Branch Spring Art for Kids
One morning I was driving home with the kiddies from doing some errands and saw our HOA was trimming the trees in our neighborhood. I immediately pulled over and grabbed a few of the tree branches they had just cut off. At the time, I wasn’t sure exactly what my preschoolers would be doing with them, but I knew I would find a fun use for them.
And I did.
You don’t need many new supplies for this process art activity, which makes it even better! Just kinda’ look through your craft supplies and see what you can find.
- Tree branches (you can also use sticks)
- Washable paint (Although to be completely honest acrylic paint, which doesn’t wash well out of clothing, is the very best for this activity)
- Pom poms
- Any other fun crafting supplies you can think to add
- We had never painted something like tree branches, and it would turn out that painting tree branches is not at all like painting paper. The three dimensions of the branches were a challenge, trying to paint all sides when we couldn’t always see every side. The other difficulty was that the tree branches wiggled as we painted them, especially the thinner branches. This really made the preschoolers use their fine motor muscles.
- This project took us several days to complete. Unlike other process art we had done in the past, this project wasn’t completed in just one morning. In fact, it took us four mornings to complete! Because we only have preschool twice a week, that means that it took us two weeks to finish.
I set the tree branches on our preschool table with some washable tempera paint (but you should really use acrylic, which doesn’t as well) and invited the children to help me paint “our trees.”
Once the tree branches dry, on another day, you can decorate them with little bits of craft supplies like ribbon, pom poms, feathers, buttons, and beads.
Spring Art for Kids with a Decorated Tree Branch
Follow along with our instructions to make your own tree branch process art!
We began by simply painting the tree branches with washable tempera paint. This did make a big mess, as the paint sometimes dripped from the branches or flecks of paint got splattered in the painting process itself. The children got paint on their clothing, and because the branches extended the length of the preschool table, they got some paint on the floor.
I didn’t want the preschoolers to feel confined to painting in just one part of the tree, so I removed the chairs and the children had the freedom to walk around the table and paint as they desired. I felt that the ability to move while painting was an important part of the art process.
And, we did end up with some messes, but that is part of the learning process and the preschoolers jumped in and everyone helped clean up.
When the tree branches were completed painted, I placed them outside on the back patio to dry. Note…if you do put your tree branches on the patio to dry, make sure it doesn’t rain that night. (Any guesses as to how I know that?)
Or…you can just do this outside on the grass or a tarp! Then, at least any paint mess with be outside.
The next preschool morning, we decorated our tree branches. I set out chenille pom poms, curling ribbon, feathers, jingle bells, pipe cleaner stems, ditalini pasta (or pasta beads) and some white school glue. Then, I let the children free with the materials, again removing the chairs so they knew they were welcome to move about as they worked.
As expected, decorating the trees ended up being a great fine motor activity. The children experienced new difficulties as they tried to figure out how to wrap the curled ribbon around the branches, or how to twist the pipe cleaner to make it stay, or how to carefully add the pom poms so they wouldn’t fall off before the glue had a chance to dry.
When our decorations were dry, we took the branches out on the front steps to add some glitter. If you use great big branches, you can set them in a five-gallon bucket filled with sand so they can stand on their own. If you do that, you should add some fun garland, too.
But if you use smaller branches…well, they make the cutest bouquets for Mother’s Day! Put them in a cheap, glass milk jar or tie them with some fat ribbon and they make such a colorful and inviting addition to an otherwise gray and drab entryway! I promise, Mom will adore them!
And, you can also add a small tag explaining all the skills your preschoolers worked on, too.
See? Don’t you love them?
Other Spring Art for Kids Activities
Try some of these other variations.
- Try using high gloss acrylic paint that is made for glass. The gloss adds the most beautiful shine to the trees. But…high gloss acrylic paint is not as child-friendly. If you do this activity ask that each parent send their kiddie to school in clothing that could get ruined, because acrylic paint is not very easy to get out of clothing.
- Try painting your branches with a specific theme. Use a fun theme like Earth Day, Under the Sea, Unicorns, Circus, or spring flowers to give a new twist to this activity. You can even find tiny ornaments, sometimes, to add to them.
- Encourage fine motor-building skills by using things that you have to twist or wrap around the branches. You can use chenille stems for this, or ribbon or string. Gluing buttons to the tree is also a fun fine motor-building activity for kiddos.
- Invite your preschoolers to make a garland to wrap around the branches. Preschoolers can string popcorn, buttons, or foam cut-outs.
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I am Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home mama of five! I am the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught range of levels, including preschool and college, and a little bit of just about everything in between. Right now, my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction