Fall Tree and Leaf Hanging

Wednesdays with Whitney
By Whitney Tang

Getting toddlers to practice fine motor skills can be difficult – most kids just aren’t interested in holding a pencil correctly at the age of three. Why not stretch those motor skills in something a little bit more fun, seasonal, and interactive? This tree and leaf activity allows children to make their own holiday decoration while they unknowingly put those little fingers to work.

• Paper bag
(large or small)
• Paper
• Scissors
• Ornament hangers (or string)
• Ribbon (optional)

1. To make the paper bag tree you will need to start by letting the kids twist the bag real tight and then untwist it. This loosens up the stiffness and allows for easier twisting later.

2. Next take your scissors and make three or four lengthwise cuts from the top of the bag down about ¾ of the way. The flappy lengthwise pieces are going to be your branches.

3. Now start twisting from the base up. Once you get up to the cuts you can wrap a ribbon around the trunk to keep it secure while you proceed with the branches.

4. Twist each branch tightly. The tighter you twist them the sturdier they will be. What’s great about all this twisting is that there is no right or wrong way to twist, so the more kids help out the better!

5. Once the tree is done, take a break from twisting and cut some leaves out of colorful paper. They can be any size and any color – let the little ones get creative!

6. Next comes the fun part – decorating! Poke your ornament hangers through the bottom of the leaf and let the little ones start hanging. Hanging decorations refines fine motor skills and is sure to add a hint of seasonal joy throughout the house.

The twisty tree was a common craft in my childhood household around the fall holidays. The leaf hanging addition is something I added to the mix when Abby (the toddler I nanny) ignored all of my attempts to put her little fingers to work on a pencil. The decorating activity strengthened her finger grip without her even noticing!

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