Embrace Fall with this Ripped Paper Tree Project

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  • Things you probably have at home:
    • Cardboard
    • Glue stick – you need lots!
    • Scissors – also kids safety scissors if you have them
    • (Optional) Black Marker
    • (Optional) – Brush – if you use Mod Podge
  • Things to buy: Schedule a remind 2 weeks before you want to do this activity to buy supplies

Use any shape of cardboard that you have

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Ideal Age Range:

This is great for all ages, anything from 1 – 10 can have fun with this in different ways. For younger children, have them rip up the paper with you and apply the glue stick. Adapt the steps to meet your child’s abilities.

Mess Factor:

Not that messy aside from some paper scraps that might fall. If you choose the finish the project with Mod Podge, make sure to use a table cover and a smock. This is the part that could get a bit messy.

Prep Time:

Gather supplies and you are ready to get started.


This is a great project that will let you embrace the change into the fall season. It can be adjusted to fit many ages and abilities. There is no right or wrong way to create this tree – so remember to let your kids have fun and make it their own!

This is a longer project, so if at any point during the project your child’s attention is lagging or they need a break, simply put the project aside and come back to it later. This way it will always be enjoyable for everyone and STRESS FREE! (Part of keeping kids interested in art projects as they grow is recognizing these signs and honoring their attention span.)

As you put this tree together, you can talk about the trees outside of your window – are their leaves starting to change now? What other things will we start to observe as we get further and further in to fall.

Active Instructions:

When you are prepping the cardboard, you can use any size piece that you have. What you see in our supply picture is from the side of a regular box. Also you can adapt to the colors of construction paper that you have in the house – one color of blue or a different color ground will be fine. Make this project your own. Remember, it is just about having fun with your child!

Prepped paper for the sky, grass + trunk

Ripped paper for the fall leaves
  1. Rip the green paper for the grass into long strips. Keep the green in it’s own pile.
    • The size doesn’t have to be precise, let them have fun. (This applies to all of the ripped paper for the project.)
  2. Rip the blue paper for the sky into long strips. If you are using two colors of blue, you can keep them in the same pile.
  3. Glue your sky! Start about 1/4 of the way up the cardboard or poster board (leaving the bottom space for the grass). Have your child put glue on the cardboard (covering all of it to make sure the paper will stick). Cover the glue with blue paper strips.
    • Don’t cover the entire board at once, work in sections about 3″ high at a time.
    • Tell your child not to worry if the paper goes over the edges, arrange them however they would like. They can overlap; they don’t have to be even.
  4. Repeat the alternating glue and paper application steps from #3 with the green on the remaining bottom section of the cardboard.
Step 3 – work in sections to apply glue + paper for your sky

Step 4 – apply green strips at the bottom for grass
  1. Trim any excess paper that is hanging over the edge of the cardboard.
    • Toddlers can attempt to cut with safety scissors, but you may need the precision of adult scissors for a nice finished edge.
  2. Rip the brown construction paper into long strips. This will create your tree!
Step 5 – trimming the excess from the edges
  1. Draw an outline of your tree onto your backdrop using your marker. Don’t worry about making this perfect – the brown paper will cover the marker. Remember trees come in all shapes and sizes. This is just a guide to help fill in the brown paper.
    • If your child if old enough, let them draw the tree
    • If you need a little extra help creating a good template, print out our tree outline at the end of this project. Just trim the tree as close to the black outline as possible, glue to the backdrop and then cover all of the template with the brown paper.
  2. Spread glue over the tree trunk + branches. Then, use the ripped brown paper to fill in the outline of the tree. Make sure only the brown paper can be seen when you are done.
Step 7 – draw an outline for your tree

Step 8 – fill it in with ripped brown paper

  1. For the leaves, have your child tear the red, orange and yellow paper into small pieces. You can create a mixed pile until you have enough pieces to fill up your tree.
  2. Spread the glue generously in small areas where your child wants the leaves.
    • They may want to sprinkle a few leaves at a time or they can add one leaf at a time (which might be more tedious…). But let them go at their own pace and decide how to finish their tree. They can make it as full or as sparse as they like.
    • Younger children may need additional help. You can cover the bottom of the picture with a spare sheet of paper, so only the branches at the top are showing. You may need to guide them on placement of leaves (or they may end up dotting the entire picture).
Step 10 – place your fall leaves on the branches
  1. (Optional step) This step is optional, but if you would like to keep this finished project to put up with fall decor, then it is worth the extra effort. Gloss Mod Podge will give the tree a shiny finish and will help smooth some pieces that may not have gotten enough glue. Spread the Mod Podge generously over the entire project using a brush.
    • Make sure your table is covered and your child has a smock to do this. (Monitor young children closely with this product.)
    • The Mod Podge will first appear white, but will dry clear.

Remember – this is a longer project so don’t hesitate to take a break if your child needs it. You can break the project into sections easily, doing the background, then the trunk, and then the leaves.

Tree Template Printable


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