This project is done with second graders, but could easily be adapted for other grades. The results are wonderful. Yes, they are a little "crafty", but I believe in exposing the kids to all forms of artistic expression in the hopes that they may find the one area in which they may shine.
The process may seem long, but it really isn't that bad!!
Day 1 PREP: I buy the material at JoAnn Fabrics, but you could use donated fabrics. I use fusible web that is ironed on to the back of the fabric and then it is cut into 1", 2", 3", 4", 5", & 6" X 1" strips (I use a cardboard template, sit in front of the TV, and trace them onto the paper backing of the fusible webbing that has been ironed on to the back of the fabric. Then, I cut out the strips and put them in 6 separate baskets so that the students can choose their pieces easily. Also, I cut small pieces for the tree trunks out of brown scrap. That is my biggest prep for this project.
I also cut the rectangular fabric so that it is a little smaller than the felt pieces (pre-bought) that will be the backing for the entire project.I bought the stars at Jo-Ann's & Hobby Lobby. They are felt with adhesive backing.We use variegated thread and embroidery needles. (I have tried other needles, but they need to be sharp to get through the felt.)
DAY ONE~ The kids are called up by tables to choose the rectangle of fabric that the tree will be ironed on to.~ I call the kids up to choose the 1" piece and I help them find the 3" & 5" that matches. They go back to their tables and remove the paper backing and lay them out on the fabric while the other tables come up.~ They come up and get their 2", 4", & 6" pieces that match and go back to do the same. Their trees are now formed. ~ They each get a tree trunk and tuck it under the 6" strip. I tell them that the tree trunk CANNOT be touching the bottom edge of the fabric.~ They bring their trees back to me to be ironed. I have found that it is easier for them to carry these if they are on something hard. We use old small chalkboards, but those mini whiteboards, or drawing boards, or even a book would work. Anything to keep the fabric flat & the pieces in place. I slide the fabric off the boards onto the ironing board & iron their trees into place. They go get a star for the top, pick out a piece of felt for the backing, and put their name on a piece of masking tape for the back.
DAY 2 PREP- Optional: I sew a button in each corner of the fabric to keep them attached to the felt. The kids could do this if you want. I don't have the time. I do it so that they stay in place while the kids are sewing. Have needles threaded and ready to go.
DAY TWO~ I demo sewing "straight up & straight down" across the strips on the tree.~ The kids choose the color of thread they want and I get them started by putting the needle in. I don't sew, but just put the needle in the fabric so they know where they are.~ If they need help, they come to me. I sit in one spot & they form a line. Plan on helping ALL class long!
DAY THREE~ By this time, some students are ready to begin sewing around the edge of the fabric rectangle. I have them choose another color of thread to do this.
DAY FOUR~ By this day, some are ready to begin adding buttons to their trees. I place bowls of buttons on each table and they again do the "straight up (add a button), straight down" method. I keep telling them this so that they don't try to take the needle around the side of the fabric & make a loop. This causes a mess! It doesn't happen often, but when it does, UGH!
To get these home, we wrap them around a cardboard tube (paper towel) and then gift wrap them to look like a "cracker"- ends bunched up and tied with ribbon. Parents can decide what to turn them in to once they are home. Pillows are nice!
If buttons are just too much work, you can have students add ornaments using puff paint and they will lokk like the one to the right:
See more examples on our Artsonia site: