If you are new to our site, take a minute to check out these posts to help take the stress out of the mess of creating with your kids!
- 5 Steps to Take the Stress Out of the Mess
- 10 Things You Need to Have for your Kids’ Art Projects
- Plan Ahead: The Secret to No Stress Fun with Your Kids
- Things you probably have at home:
- Paint brush
- Rubber bands
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Ideal Age Range:
This is idea for ages 5 and up (but it can be modified for younger children – see instruction #8)
Paint can always be a bit messy, but older kids should be able to contain the mess. (If your child is a little over-zealous, try step #7 outside)
5 minutes. Gather supplies and cut the straw to a size that is easy for your child to maneuver (they will be blowing through it to guide the paint.)
This project is great because it incorporates a lot of different art techniques. You can break this project up into several different sessions to fill a day (or a few days). The end result is a beautiful piece that kids can display, and something that they can talk about with other family members or relatives to explain all of the fun steps!
- We will start by painting the grass. Spread GREEN watercolor paint on bottom 1/4 of the paper.
- A note on paper type – if you don’t have watercolor paper that is fine, but try to find a heavier construction paper to work with since some of the paint techniques are a bit watery.
- Next paint the sky. Spread blue watercolor paint along the top of the paper for the sky. Different shades of blue can be used. (Darker color will react better with the salt.)
- (Optional) Salt application. You don’t have to do this step, but the salt will mottle the paint, creating a “cloud” effect. While the blue paint is WET, lightly sprinkle a small amount of salt onto the paint.
- Helpful Tips: if you need to re-wet the paint, just brush more water with the paint brush, or mist with a spray bottle filled with water. When applying the salt, give your child a very small amount to use. Just a little bit will make a nicer effect.
- Allow the paint to dry completely with the salt (it may take a few hours). While your child is waiting for the paint to dry, give him more paper to create their own design or picture and experiment with the salt effect.
- When the paint is dry, BRUSH OFF the salt with your hands.
- Next we will move on to the Tree. Mix some black paint with water to make it thin enough to blow easily with the straw. Make a little puddle of black at the grass line. Using the straw,(cut down to a manageable size for your child), blow the paint up onto the blue sky. Continue adding very small puddles of black paint as the tree “grows”, blowing into the straw to create the trunk and branches.
- HELPFUL TIPS – You can have your child practice blowing the paint on a piece of scrap paper before making the tree. Move the paper in different directions to help the paint spread into different limbs and branches. Try to encourage your child to get down low next to their painting, (shown in the picture below) as they blow, without sticking the straw into the paint.
- We also have a video of this technique at the end of this post!
- If your child is having trouble blowing through the straw, they can use the straw to spread the paint, or use a paint brush. Allow the black paint to dry before the leaves are added.
- Younger children can glue a pre- cut tree shape onto the background made from black or brown paper. You can find a template from a previous project at the end of this post.
- Time for the leaves! Using one color of paint at a time, show your child how to dab up and down with the q-tip, (rather then spread the paint as they would with a brush). Your child can choose whether they want all the colors in their tree, or just one or two. Also encourage them to choose where they want the leaves on their tree.
- Younger children may need the bottom of their pictures covered with a piece of scrap paper as they apply their leaves, to help guide them to dab the leaves on the top of the tree and branches.
- For younger children, you can also use the rubber bands to group a few q-tips together at a time. This helps them cover more area a bit faster.
- As a final step, your child can dab a few falling leaves on the grass.
This is a great project to pair with other learning activities surrounding leaves. You can diagram a leaf or integrate this into your discussions about the seasons and weather. You may even want to gather some leaves during a nature walk and bring them inside for inspiration as you paint.
Before you start painting, look at pictures of different kinds of trees with your kids. Let them observe how different trees have different leaves, and how all trees are unique as the seasons change.
Straw Blowing Technique Video
Here are some fun book suggestions about leaves that you can use to enhance this activity:
If you want to pin this project, please use the image below.