Guest Author - Lisa Pinkus
Trees, trees, trees. Tu B’Shvat is all about the trees. It is such a great holiday to embrace on so many different levels. We can help our children become caretakers of the trees. We can plant trees that future generations will benefit from. We can learn about Jewish tradition and the reason why we have Tu B’Shvat in the first place. These simple to carry out crafts will help you introduce Tu B’Shvat to your children, no matter how old they are.
Reduce, reuse, and recycle is one of the modern day themes of Tu B’Shvat. It’s the perfect time to take the opportunity to reinforce the care of the Earth. There’s no better way to do that than with an art project using recycled materials.
Save up frozen orange juice containers, tin cans, or buckets. You might even consider using an old shoe. Use these recyclable containers to plant an herb garden. You’ll need soil, seeds or seedlings, and any decorations you might want to use. Children will get excited when they are decorating their containers. All you need to do next is put in the soil, the seeds or seedling, and start caring for your plant.
What Trees Give
It’s always nice when there is an art project that can also teach a lesson. On Tu B’Shvat, we want our children to deepen their appreciation for trees. Learning about what trees provide for us will help increase the gratitude they feel for trees. Start with a large piece of white paper. Draw an outline of a tree, filling the paper. Look through magazines and cut out pictures representing all of the things trees do for us. Ideas include things trees give us (flowers, fruit, paper), things trees do for us (provide us with shade, oxygen, and a place to play), and other benefits (like providing a home for animals and birds).
After you’ve filled in your tree, you can leave it as is or you can cut out and color leaves to cover your tree with.
Make a Tree
For the little ones, the simple act of sticking stickers on paper is exciting and stimulating. Using toilet paper rolls, green construction paper or tissue paper, and red circle-shaped stickers, you can make a cute apple tree to help decorate the house. Stick the stickers on the green paper and then crumble and tuck if you are using tissue paper or cut slits in the toilet paper roll and stick it in if you are using construction paper.
The older ones may get excited about a project my children and I did last year. I saw this on Creative Jewish Mom and throw all the credit in that direction. This tree is made up of mandalas created by your children. We used black paper cut into various sized circles. Using pastels, my children and I filled the circles with colorful designs, swirls, and patterns. I cut out a trunk using brown butcher paper and then we decorated the tree with our circular leaves. The tree covered one entire wall in our dining room. It was so beautiful, we left it up for quite a while.
A Simpler Tree
Do you have some old puzzles lying around? Perhaps missing a few pieces? You never wanted to throw it away because you thought, for sure, you’d find those missing pieces. Well, you probably won’t and now there is an art project for Tu B’Shvat that can make use of that puzzle. Spend one day painting the pieces different shades of green. On the next crafting day, you will need blue paper, glue, a paper bag, and green paint, markers, or crayons. Using the blue paper as your background, crumple the brown paper bag into a tree trunk with several branches. You may need to use a few paper bags to accomplish this task. Once you have shaped and glued your trunk and branches onto your blue paper, you can begin gluing the blue puzzle piece leaves onto the tree. Use your green marker to draw grass at the base of the tree to complete your picture.