Arbor Day Activities & Crafts for Kids

Did you want to do some fun, educational and engaging Arbor Day activities with children?  If so, you have come to the right place!  Our activities are widely used by teachers, moms, dads, child care providers etc. for learning and teaching while being fun for the kids!

Arbor Day is a holiday in which individuals and groups are encouraged to plant and care for trees. Arbor Day originated in Nebraska City, Nebraska, United States but is also celebrated by several other countries. It often falls on the last Friday in April, but since planting conditions vary, it may occur from September to May.

Arbor Day Arts & Crafts

What is Arbor Day?
Arbor Day is the time for planting new trees in yards, parks, neighborhoods, and communities. National Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April, but the date of each state’s Arbor day can vary depending on the growing season. Arbor day is also a time to appreciate trees both for their beauty and their usefulness. Talk with the children about how trees provide us with shade, food, and firewood as well as wood for making such things as paper, houses and furniture.

Arbor Day Arts and Crafts

Hand Trees
Trace around hand and arm to make a tree and trunk. Color. Or, for a neat effect, color a piece of paper with colors so it is completely filled like a sunset, then trace around hand and arm on black construction paper. Cut, and paste onto sunset.

Mini Forest Making
Gather up fallen branches from outside. Let children place in square flower holders (I don’t remember the name, but florists use them in baskets to put flower arrangements into) to make a forest. Add details such as animals, small nests, etc.

Tree Worms
If you have the bark of a wild tree, the children love to see the shape the ringworms made on it. Then they can draw a tree and make similar shapes.

Leaf Press
The kids can gather fresh leaves and bark, press them, and let them glue them on paper in the shape of a tree. Then cover with clear contact paper, and they have their own pressed leaf tree.

The Tree Life Cycle
Show the kids how the leaves/buds of the tree look in the four seasons by making a poster. For younger kids, have trees made, and let them color the leaves green, yellow, or make buds, and leave one blank as it is in winter (some kids will color snow on it.) For older kids, they can simply draw the tree in context, associating it with the season.

Sponge-Painted Trees
Supplies: one small sponge for each child
Tempera paint
Construction paper or art paper

It works best to talk about how trees look, with pictures of trees, first. Then, show the children how they can use the sponges as a paint brush, either by stroking the sponge on the paper, or dabbing it onto the paper, which leaves the texture kind of like leaves on a tree. They can then create tree pictures. I’ve done this with fall colors, evergreen trees with snow, etc.

Arm Trees
Paint child’s forearm and hand brown and print on paper. This forms the basic tree trunk and branches. After brown paint is dry, let child add leaves and/or flowers either by tearing green paper into pieces and gluing them on, using fingertips in green paint to add leaves to tree, sponge painting leaves on tree, gluing on old puzzle pieces for leaves, etc.

Paint hand with brown paint, and stamp on paper. Then dip fingers in paint and make apple blossoms (white and pink paint), Cherry’s (red) or fall colors.

The children can make bark rubbings during a walk or bring leaves back with them and do leaf rubbings in the classroom.

Torn Paper Tree
The students can tear up pieces of green and brown construction paper. The torn effect is wonderful for creating trees. The students can work together to create a giant class tree made out of the torn up paper. Draw an outline of a tree on a large paper and have the students glue the torn paper all over it.

Trash Monster
2 Paper Grocery Bags
Pipe Cleaners
Construction Paper
Get 2 large paper grocery bags for each child. Cut a large oval out of the bottom of one. Slide it into the other bag, open end first, so that the oval is on top. The oval will be the monster’s mouth. Decorate the top of the bag with construction paper eyes, mouth, hair, whatever. Poke a small hole on the top center, about 2″ from the edge, and another on the back, about 3″ from the top.

Run a pipe cleaner thru the two holes and twist together to make a handle. Then take the monsters for a walk, and “feed” them any trash you find. Also looks cute for a trash bag in the child’s room. To empty and reuse, untwist the pipe cleaner and pull the top bag out, empty and replace.

Seed Viewers
submitted by Sue in Marion, IA.
Clear Plastic Cup
Black construction Paper
Paper Towels
Bean seeds

Use a clear plastic cup that is 6-12 inches tall. Cut black construction paper so that it fits inside, up against the cup walls. Fill the center with wadded up paper towels. “Plant” bean seeds between the cup walls and construction paper, about 1/2 – 2/3 down.

Water the paper towels and keep MOIST. Bean seeds will grow and you can view root growth, what happens to seeds, etc. They can grow quite large and will be fine as long as you keep paper towels moist.

Blossom Tree—
submitted by Fran
Construction Paper
Powdered Tempera Paint

Cut out a brown tree trunk and some branches. Take popcorn and sprinkle pink or red tempera paint on it. Children glue the colored popcorn onto the branches. It should look like a tree with blossoms.

Potato Planters
submitted by Christie
Misc. craft Supplies
Potting Soil
Grass Seed

Scoop out some of the potato before you give it to the children. Let the children make a face with the pipe cleaners, yarn and eyes. When they have
finished add the soil and grass seed, when the grass grows your potato has hair.

Wheelbarrow Planter
submitted by Teresa from Texas
Plastic Scoops from Laundry detergent
Milk Gallon Cap (or buttons, etc…)
Potting Soil

Take the plastic scoop from laundry detergent (wash it) and glue on each side towards the handle the plastic lid off a gallon milk jug. It makes a little wheelbarrow. Next add potting soil and let the kids plant seeds in it. I always plant either grass seeds or beans because they grow so fast.

Fabric Leaf Mobile
Glue colorful and different fabrics to both sides of several pieces of heavy paper. Cut leaves from this. Tie a string on each leaf. Suspend the leaves from a small branch. Hang where the leaves will catch the breeze and flutter.

Toothpick Tree
Have the children make a tree by gluing toothpicks on a piece of paper. Use a sponge and green tempera paint to add leaves to the top of the tree.

Leaf Match
Use a glue stick to glue leaves plucked from 4-6 different trees on to a poster board. Cover with clear contact paper. Sandwich leaves of the same size and variety between two pieces of clear contact paper. Trim around each leaves leaving a (pi) ” sealed edge. Set the board and leaves on a tray. The children match the leaves.

Mural Forest
To make a tree, press a child’s hand into green tempera paint. Keeping the fingers & thumb close together, press the hand on a roll piece of white butcher paper, making the tree, leaves and branches. Have the children print their hands as many times as they would like on the same paper to make a forest. Use a brown maker sideways, print the child’s names under their trees to make the trunks.

TP Trees
Materials: Toilet paper roll, Brown paint, Leaves, construction Paper. What to Do: Cut toilet paper roll in half long ways. Paint it brown, Let dry. Glue to Construction paper as a tree trunk then glue real or paper leaves around to make it look like a tree.

Leaf Puzzles
Make easy puzzles by tracing leaf shapes onto a piece of construction paper. Use preserved leaves from science activity or leaves that you have drawn on construction paper and then cut out. Have the children place the leaf shape onto the appropriate leaf outline.

Add evergreen branches to the art area to be used as paint brushes.

Recipes and Snacks
Have tree shaped foods for lunch and dessert: Broccoli, celery stalks/green gumdrops stacked like a pine tree or inverted sugar cones placed on some crushed Oreo cookies (for dirt)

Tree Walk
Take kids on a walk or to a park to look for trees. They can even give the trees big {{{hugs}}}. Have them compare trees by sizes, colors, types of bark, types of foliage.


Arbor Day Games & Activities

Collect either leaves, flowers, or buds from a variety of trees. Place them in a center. The students can talk about what is alike and what is different. Have tree books available for the students to see the pictures. The students can group the leaves by size, shape, color, etc.

Who lives in trees?
Let children make a tree. Then give them pictures of bunnies, birds, and other animals. Let them think about where the animals might live. . . hints such as wings help birds fly, so they can live high in the tree help. They can paste the animals on their paper on the ground, under the tree, in the tree, etc.

In the fall I dig up a seedling from my yard, pot it and bring it into the classroom. We watch the leaves turn color (I live in NJ) and then fall off. I water it when it rains or snows. Now we are waiting to see if it will bud and bloom again.

Trees in the wind
Divide the group into two teams, trees and winter wind. Stand trees on one side of the room, wind on the other. Trees must decide what kind of tree they are and choose one person to represent them. Trees walk towards the wind and their spokesman asks wind person to guess what kind of tree they are.

Depending upon their knowledge, he can give clues to direct the winds’ guesses. When wind guesses correctly, it races to tag trees, while trees race back to their safety line to try to escape. Tagged trees join the wind. After a couple of goes, let trees and wind change sides.

Block Area
Add evergreen trees (Cut from 1 inch thick pine board into tall triangular trees in various sizes. Keep the bottoms flat and wide so they are easy to stand up. Sand smooth – can use a non-toxic green stain for a pretty finish.) Vinyl forest creatures.

Display pictures of forests and logging trucks. Provide a couple of wood trucks to load and unload with the logs – the logs can be cylinders from the block set or logs made from smooth straight branches cut into lengths that fits the trucks.

Leaf hunt
Let children go on a leaf hunt. See how many different shapes of leaves they can find. Bring them back to the classroom, where you can have a book of leaf shapes. Help the children to learn the names of the leaves they found. Some of the names are great, because they look like the leaf (triangular, linear, etc.) Also note what kind of trees the leaves belong to.

Ring counting
If you have a slice of an old tree, children can count the rings to find out the tree’s age.

Sand and Water Table
Wood shavings in the sand/water table

Class Tree
Use plaster of Paris to put a branch in a bucket, children can decorate branch with pinecones, assorted leaves, make their own leaves from paper….

Provide a hand drill for boring holes, and a hammer and large head nails for pounding into pine boards.
Add tree cookie cutters to the play dough tools.

Leaf observation
Collect leaves from a variety of trees. Place them and a magnifying glass on the science table for the children to explore.

Dramatic Play
Turn the dramatic play area into a greenhouse, provide pots, watering cans etc.

Make a feely box with parts of a tree inside, bark, seeds, flowers, etc.

Talk about all of the uses for trees: Paper is made from wood, homes, boats are built from wood, we can burn wood to provide heat for warmth or cooking.

Large And Small
Select leaves from nearby trees. Collect a large and small leaf from each tree. Press the leaves between two large books to flatten them. Protect the leaves by preserving them in wax or by placing them between two sheets of clear adhesive paper and trimming to within an inch of the leaf.

Place the larger leaves on the table. Place the smaller leaves in a box. Ask the child to select a leaf from the box and match it to its partner on the table.


Arbor Day Songs, Poems & Fingerplays

On stormy days
when the wind is high
Tall trees are brooms
sweeping the sky
They swish their branches
In buckets of rain
And swash and sweep it
blue again.

Phyllis The Forest Ranger (Sung to the tune of “Clementine”)
Phyllis is a forest ranger,
And she takes care of the trees.
She’s a friend to every creature,
From big bears to little bees.
When I go to see the forest,
Phyllis takes me on a walk.
I learn all about the wildlife,
When I listen to her talk.

A poem by: Susan M. Paprocki
Why not hug a tree today
Or pat it on it’s bark?
Give a tree a great big squeeze
At home or in the park.

Find the tree you like the best
And stand beneath it’s shade.
Stretch your arms around its trunk
And hug until you fade.

Imagine the birds that have lived in your tree,
Imagine the squirrel in its nest.
A tree is a home to all that come,
The perfect place to rest.

So put your arms around your tree,
Whether its short or tall.
Hug your tree – you’ll feel so good,
Winter, spring, summer or fall.

The Evergreens
(Story from the Vancouver Coast Region)
Once, a long time ago, a small bird broke his wing just as winter was coming along. Unable to fly to the warm south with his friends, he hopped into the forest to look for shelter. First he asked a birch tree for help.

“Lovely birch tree, ” the bird said, “I’ve broken my wing and must find a place to keep warm. Will you let me live in your branches until spring?”

“Heaven no!” the birch replied, “I have enough to worry about just taking care of my leaves for the winter. I have no time to help you.”

The little bird then hopped to a huge oak tree. “Mighty oak, “he said politely, “will you let me live in your branches until spring?”

“No way,” the oak said. “I know your type. You’ll just eat up all of my acorns. Move along, move along!”

The poor bird limped over to a willow tree. “Gentle willow,” the bird implored, “may I live in your branches until spring?”

“Are you kidding?” the willow said. “Perhaps some trees take in strangers, but I certainly don’t. Go away!”

Weak and dejected, the bird fluttered along, not knowing where to turn. “Where are you going, little bird” a concerned voice asked.

The bird looked up at a friendly Spruce. “I don’t know,”he said miserably. “My wing is broken, so I can’t fly south, and I need a warm place to stay for the winter.”

“Come and live in my branches,”the spruce said. “I’ll be happy to have company for the winter.”

The bird gratefully fluttered into a low branch and was settling down when a nearby pine tree called, “Welcome little bird. I’m sorry you are hurt. I’ll help too, by sheltering the spruce to keep you both out of winter’s icy wind.”

“Me to,” piped up a small juniper. “I can help by giving you berries to eat all winter long.”

“You’re all so kind,”the bird said. “Thank you very much.”

“They’ll be sorry,” whispered the oak, the willow, and the birch.

The very next morning, Jack Frost brought his children out to play. “We want to touch all the leaves in the forest so we can see what bare trees look like. Can we, can we, Pop?” the Forest children jumped with excitement.

“Hold it,” said Jack Frost sternly. Old Jack had been testing the air the day before and had seen the plight of the little bird. “Don’t touch every leaf,” he ordered. “Let the trees who were kind to the little bird keep their leaves.”

Being good children, the Frost children listened to their dad. That is why today the spruce, the pine, and the juniper stay green the whole year long.




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