This is my FAVORITE project of the year! I look forward to doing this lesson with my 2nd graders every year. Why? It’s highly successful for ALL my kids, gorgeous, and just stunning in the hallways.
I introduced them to Gustave Klimt’s “Birch Forest” and “Birchwood” paintings. We discussed the unique qualities of the birch tree and many of the kids point out that they’ve seen this tree in their yard or on the school playground! YES! We look at photos of some of the trees (because I don’t have windows in my room) and discuss the branches and how they are slightly tilted or have tall trunks.
Next, the kids use masking tape to make the tree trunks. I had them cut a piece of tape the length of their paper and get some lint off their clothes by taking the tape and sticking and unsticking it then putting it down on the paper and lightly press it down.
They rip or cut some strips in half to make branches. After all the tape is stuck down, we use either warm or cool colors to create a color wash over the tape.
They sprinkled salt (I used rock salt) over the wash and allowed it to dry until next class. Once dry, we brushed the salt off into the garbage can and peeled the tape off carefully. I demonstrated how to make the trees look more realistic by adding shading and the black lines and knotholes. Using black cake tempera paint and water, they created a grey to shade half the tree, making sure to shade all the trunks and branches on the same side.