How to make Textured Apple Tree Art & “The Giving Tree”

A Classic Book & Textured Apple Tree Art!

After reading Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” we tried a new kind of art project. We used oil pastels, watercolor paint, colored pumpkin seeds & colored coconut. I’m excited to walk you through how we made this fun Textured Apple Tree art, so let’s get started…

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Summary of “The Giving Tree”

“The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein is a book I’ve treasured since I first heard it read; by my 1st grade teacher. Everyday she would read us some of Shel Silverstein’s poems or this story; and I fell in love. In fact, I asked Santa for “Where the Sidewalk Ends” that year and its one of my most prized possessions. 🙂

This story has taken on another perspective now that the world has shifted and I look at things from a different point of view. When I read it to my older daughter I was still young and took it at face value.

But now, when I read it to my youngest (there is a 13 year age gap), I found us discussing not only what I believe to be the originally intended message…that it is important to give and not just take. But I found the need to talk to her about the importance of self-care and not giving too much of yourself away. How important it is to have boundaries and not allow yourself to be taken advantage of. We brainstormed how the tree could have communicated her feelings.

I still enjoy this book and probably always will & I’m happy to have it prompt such significant dialogue.

How We Made Textured Apple Tree Art…

hand drawing a tree with branches

We tend to keep the activities as simple as possible around here. We’re not interested in complicated or costly. We are also all about fostering independence. For this activity my daughter gathered the materials and we began by drawing a tree. She wasn’t sure how to make a tree with just branches on top and asked for my assistance. First I modeled it by drawing a tree myself, then I encouraged her to do the same. She was hesitant to draw the branches and asked me to guide her hand, I did for the first branch helping her understand the positioning of the lines. She quickly got the hang of it and even decided to imitate how I made one branch behind the others.

bare brown tree with blue background

Once our oil pastel trees were drawn, it was our favorite time… watercolor painting! We both really enjoy water color painting and find it relaxing. Coincidently we both painted our trees brown and background blue.

We set our art near the wood burning stove to speed up the drying process as we were eager to continue constructing our multi-layer trees. If you’re more patient than us or doing this in a classroom, you can totally have this be a multi-step process over several days, which is awesome!

Colored Pumpkin Seeds as “Apples” & Coconut flakes as “Leaves”?

hand placing red colored pumpkin seed on tree painting

Soon we began the next step; gluing the colored pumpkin seeds that were representing the “apples” on our tree. The directions of how to make colored pumpkin seeds are below. 😉 This was simple enough, just add a dab a glue & place the seed. This is a great activity to work on fine motor skills.

close up of pumpkin seed "apples" and green colored coconut flake "leaves" on painted tree

Lastly, we switched to using stick glue. We rubbed it onto a small section and sprinkled the colored coconut flakes, then repeated the process until we were satisfied with how many “leaves” there were. Directions of how to color the coconut flakes is below as well. 😉

Once our trees were completely dry we really admired how terrific they turned out. It was our first time using colored coconut & pumpkin seeds in art. Fun fact: the colored pumpkin seeds have a nice shine to them which further enhanced the look of our “apples”!

Wait?!? Am I Supposed To Be Making One Too?

I highly recommend getting hands on and doing art projects with your child. If you’d rather not, thats okay too, but please do not correct anything they do. If you want the art to look a certain way – make your own.

completed apple tree painting with green coconut flake leaves and red pumpkin seed apples.

Especially if your child is little, its okay if it doesn’t turn out the way you imagined. Maybe its what they imagined. Also, its a process. They are learning. They will learn more through trial and error than if you correct them or do it for them. All they will learn if you “help” is that they didn’t do a good enough job on their own or they can’t do it; not exactly the message you want to give your kid. Am I right?!?

close up view looking up the apple tree painting

Believe me, I know it can be really challenging to let them make “mistakes”. Try doing the project along side them. It will allow you to focus on your own work, give them appropriate modeling of how to use the materials, and show them that you like art too! A lot of what I talk about in “What about the Sensory Mess?” applies to Art projects as well, you might wanna check it out! I love how each art has its own identity. I would suggest Textured Apple Trees if you’re looking for a fun and unique art activity to connect with your child.

Materials We Used

  1. “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein (from the library or buy it here)
  2. Cardstock paper
  3. A brown oil pastel
  4. Watercolor paint
  5. Pumpkin seeds
  6. Food coloring
  7. Vinegar
  8. Ziplock bags
  9. Unsweetened coconut flakes
  10. Wax paper
  11. Glue
  12. Stick Glue
    Click HERE for Free Printable copy (Email Subscribers Only)

How to Make Textured Apple Tree Art?

  1. Lay the white cardstock paper on the tray.
  2. Draw a tree with branches using an oil pastel (or crayon).
  3. Paint the background and tree with watercolor paint.
  4. Allow time to dry.
  5. Glue red colored pumpkin seeds in random places on the branches of the tree.
  6. Use stick glue to rub a small area and sprinkle green colored coconut flakes on top.
  7. Continue doing this in small areas (because the stick glue dries quickly), until you have as many “leaves” as you desire.
  8. Allow time to dry.
    Click HERE for Free Printable copy (Email Subscribers Only)

How to Make Colored Pumpkin Seeds?

  1. Scoop pumpkin seeds out of a pumpkin.
  2. Clean them.
  3. Dry them.
  4. Place them in a Ziplock bag.
  5. Add a few drops of food coloring.
  6. Add one tbsp. of vinegar.
  7. Seal the bag.
  8. Mush the seeds around until they are colored completely.
  9. Pour the seeds onto wax paper (if you touch them the food color will stain your hands).
  10. Allow time to dry.
  11. Done!
    Click HERE for Free Printable copy (Email Subscribers Only)

How to Make Colored Coconut Flakes?

  1. Pour desired amount of unsweetened coconut flakes into a bowl.
  2. Add a few drops of food coloring.
  3. Whisk the coconut around until it is colored completely.
  4. Scoop the coconut flakes onto wax paper (if you touch them the food color will stain your hands).
  5. Allow time to dry.
  6. Done!
    Click HERE for Free Printable copy (Email Subscribers Only)

Wait, There’s More…

Sample of “Communicating & Connecting FREE Bonus Printable.

I believe you can easily strengthen communication skills and foster independence all while playing and connecting with your child. To help you do this; I’ve created a FREE printable for each activity called, “Communicating & Connecting”.

It will give you a list of suggestions I’ve found very helpful as a Mom & as a special education teacher; to help you build lifelong skills. Please don’t feel obligated to do everything on the list (but if you do, you’re a rockstar 😉 ).

As a Thank You for subscribing; this is a special FREEBIE for our Email Subscribers Only. 🙂 Click here if you’ve already subscribed. Otherwise, Sign Up below to get the password & access to our entire FREE Printables Library today! 😉

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