Leaves are changing color, mornings are crisp and chilly, and sweaters are coming out of storage. Fall must be here! It’s the beginning of the season of gatherings and gratitude. As November draws near, we’re getting ready for the month’s theme of Hand in Hand, where we will teach preschoolers “I am thankful for people who help me.”
We love our annual First Look tradition of creating thankful trees. A thankful tree begins with a bare tree displayed on a wall or board. Week-by-week we write down what we’re thankful for on a leaf and add it to the tree. By the end of the month, our tree is full of gratitude- what a tangible and fun way to display what we are thankful for! We encourage you to include a thankful tree in your preschool environments and create a great display for children to show what they are thankful for. As you think through how you want to incorporate a thankful tree into your plans for November, we thought we’d offer some ideas to get you started!
Since November’s theme centers around the hands that help us every day, we decided to include handprints as an option for the “leaves” on our thankful trees. All of the examples we created took around thirty minutes to make—so they’re all quick and easy. Feel free to modify these and let your imagination soar! (We also have some more ideas on our November Pinterest board, where you will also find sources for all of the supplies you’ll need.) Whether you have an entire hallway to turn into a thankful forest or a single bulletin board, you can create an interactive and memorable reminder of all the things your preschoolers are thankful for!
All you need is a roll of brown butcher paper, a pencil, scissors, and painters/masking tape for the tree. Then for the leaves you could use die cut handprints, die cut leaves, or different fall colors of construction paper cut into leaves.
Here’s a classic tree with sprawling branches. We taped two 7-foot lengths of butcher paper on the wall (slightly overlapping in the middle), drew the outline of a tree, removed the paper and cut it out. Loops of painters tape on the back of the branches and trunk hold up the tree.
It’s ready to fill with fall-colored leaves or die cut hands of gratitude!
Here’s a really fun variation where we twisted lengths of butcher paper to create the trunk and branches of our tree. You can get great dimensionality with this one and easily create a larger-scale tree without having to precisely cut dozens of branches. That isn’t to say you couldn’t scale this one down. It would also be fabulous on a bulletin board display! You could create a greater sense of depth by making roots or adding cut paper “grass” around the base of the tree.
Next is the simplest version. This one uses only one 6-foot length of butcher paper and has leaves cut out of construction paper. It’s simple, but sweet!
Last is our example of how you could create a Thankful Tree if you decorate a bulletin board each month. Like the first example, we taped a piece of butcher paper on the wall. (This time we cut a piece the width of our “board.”) We used our pencil to draw a tree outline that was wider than it was tall to better fill out the space on our board.
We think it looks exceptionally festive with fallen leaves on the ground.
We’d love to see YOUR thankful tree! Please share your ideas and pictures on the First Look Facebook page or your Instagram using the hashtag: #FLThankfulTree. We can’t wait to see what you create!