07 April 2013

Hand Leaves Tree Project

Here's a really cool project I found on the internet when I was searching for kids paper crafts.  I recently purchased a bunch of craft bits and pieces from a friend for Trinity, which included a collection of 15 x 15 cm patterned paper squares. 

The pretty patterned squares.
They were the perfect size for cutting out shapes of Trini's hands with little wastage.  Actually don't throw out the paper off-cuts as you can use them on another project that we will be working on soon and I'll post the instructions at some point.


Patterned or coloured paper (enough to cut out 12 hands, ie A4 size then have 6 sheets) 
A2 heavyweight paper
Crayola brown, light blue and white pots of paint (I use Crayola because they are non-toxic and safe for Trini)
A4 size cardboard to create hand template (cereal box would be perfect)
1 x wide paintbrush for the large surfaces
1 x narrow paintbrush to tidy up edges
Paint tray or disposable plate
Pencil and eraser
Glue stick
Green sticky felt border (optional - it just provides detail)
Brown fine point permanent marker (optional - it just provides detail)


1. On the cardboard trace your child/children's hands and cut out.  Store the hands either for other hand projects or stay tuned for a project we'll do embellishing the hands and turning them into their own craft.

Cardboard hand templates.

2. Use the cardboard templates to trace 6 left and 6 right hands onto your coloured or patterned paper, then cut them out.

3. On the A2 paper place the hands like leaves approximately in a semi-circle shape then when satisfied lightly draw a tree trunk with branches meeting with the hands.  (If you have a good look at the image below you'll notice that my branches were far too big and the hands didn't fit all that well.  That's because I drew the tree first and then tried to fit the hands on the page.  Since it didn't work, I did it the reverse way by placing the hands first and then drawing the tree and branches.  Much better.)

Arranging the hands until I was happy with the look.
Take a photo of the placement so you can refer back to it.

3. Remove the hands from the sheet and with a pencil connect the lines so that the tree branches are defined.  I know this may seem a little fiddly, however, I prepared this part in the evening so that it was ready for Trinity the next morning to just get into it.

Pencil outline and ready to be painted.

4.  On a paint tray or disposable plate pour a little brown and instruct your child to paint the tree with the wide paintbrush.  Use the narrow paintbrush to fill in gaps and straighten out edges (you may want to do that if your child is too young for this detail).

5.  Clean the brushes when done and then paint with blue.  I added some white to the blue to lighten it a bit but you don't need to if you're happy with the colour.  Trinity enjoyed the process of mixing the two colours with the opposite end of a paintbrush.

The foundation is complete and ready for the
hand leaves to be glued.
6.  Use the photo to guide you where to place the hands onto the tree.  Take one hand at a time and with a glue stick instruct the child to run the stick across the whole hand then put the hand back in place and smooth with your hands.  Add more glue to parts that are not sticking down.

7.  With the brown marker draw some adhoc lines on the tree trunk to give it more detail.  Otherwise it looks a little bland when compared to the hand details.  Daddy has a very steady hand so we roped him into drawing the lines for us.

Thank you Daddy for spunkying up our tree trunk.
The Hand Leaves Tree is finished.
8.  You can stop at this point, put your initials and date on it and hang it up somewhere with blu-tac to enjoy.  However, we took it a step further.  We happened to have green felt border that can be stuck directly to the project once the paper was peeled off the bottom.  Not fun and certainly not for children to try.  It is very fiddly but we knew it would look pretty.  So if you have access to some cut it to size and stick it on.  Alternative items that you can use are ribbons, scrap fabric, buttons or green paper.  Any one of these items will add texture and interest at the bottom of the page.

Why me?? How did my girls rope me into this??
Felt border added for some extra texture.
We added our initials inside the flower on the bottom right.
This project can be simplified for little ones by cutting out 4-6 hands on colour paper, draw and cutout a tree trunk from colour paper and then getting your child to glue the ensemble onto a background sheet.

This simple exercise develops their dexterity, focus and concepts of how bits put together can create a picture.  Their sense of accomplishment will be visible on their faces and you can encourage them to show their picture to a friend or family member (in our house it's usually Daddy) and talk in simple words about how they did it (talking about it reinforces the learning experience for another time).  The key is to keep the whole exercise simple filled with encouragement.