hello autumn tree painting collage!

and….happy Halloween!

art class for toddler elementary school kids new jersey

This project lets the students put together skills they have been working on all session. It combines finger painting, cutting and gluing. This multi-step project works well with our class design; the children participate in station play for the first part of the class, where they complete the initial step of the project. Later, they all join together and finish the rest as a group. Click here for a PDF Autumn Tree Painting Collage.

Age level: 3-5 years


  • Following sequential directions.
  • Learning about color mixing and the color brown.
  • Developing cutting and gluing skills.


  • Finger paint (orange and blue)
  • Trays
  • Texture tools
  • Cardstock
  • 18” x 24” paper or cardstock
  • white glue in squeeze bottles
  • patterned paper
  • scissorsbest art class for children north nj

Teacher Prep:

  • Cut out tree shapes from cardstock, one per child
  • Cut patterned paper into ½” strips
  • Write each child’s name on a sticker that will go on the back of the cardstock tree

Cutting skills:  This class is often our 3-5 year olds’ first experiences with using scissors, a difficult skill to master, especially for this age group.  We do a few things to make this introduction successful for children who otherwise would not be ready for it.

  • We have two different types of easy to use scissors.  One set has a simple loop instead of finger holes; the others are the traditional type.  We start out giving the kids the traditional style, then offer the loop style if they are having difficulty.images-1
  • We prepare the paper for them to cut by creating ½ “ strips. This offers them a very small area to cut, much simpler than a larger area.
  • We offer lots of instruction to the caregivers who are helping out, giving them ways to aid the students.   For this project, we remind them “thumbs up” while holding the scissors, and encourage the adults to hold the paper strips for the children to give them one less thing to coordinate.

Note: It is helpful to have a co-teacher or assistant for this project as there is one step that adults do for the children


First phase:

  1. We usually do this during free-range station play, and put out trays with orange and blue finger paint.
  2. We encourage the children to mix the colors together with their hands until they get brown.the messy artist fine art classes for kids
  3. At that point, we give them the pre-cut tree trunk cut from cardstock and a texture tool. They finger paint the tree and can add texture with the tool – or their fingers – if they like.autumn kids art project
  4. Make sure to add their name sticker to the back so you know whose painting is whose.

Phase 2:

  1. Set the trees aside to dry; it doesn’t take very long.
  2. Have an adult glue each dried tree trunk onto an 18” x 24” piece of paper or cardstock with white glue.
  3. Write child’s name on front of paper.collage for kids art project 3 year old

Phase 3:

  1. The instructor should go over a brief cutting lesson as they demonstrate cutting the patterned strips into small pieces.
    1. We like to say “thumbs up” to remind the children which way to put their fingers into the holes.
  2. Pass out the scissors and the patterned paper strips.
  3. Asking the caregivers to hold the strips for the children can make it easier for them.morris county new jersey kids art classes art classes party and camp for children new jersey
  4. Once the children have cut up a few strips and have a pile of smaller pieces, hand out their trees and a glue bottle.
  5. Show them how to dab on a dot of glue and then place a square into it.the messy artist and art studio for kids
  6. It’s good to have some extra squares on hand in case a child is having difficulty cutting enough squares in the time allotted. They can the use some of these when it is time to glue.
  7. Let them add the squares to their project so that they look like leaves falling from their tree.new jersey best kids art class
  8. You may want to turn the paper around for the kids to reach more easily.
  9. These take some time to dry and go home the next class session.cutting project for 3-5 year olds

What are your favorite fall projects? We’d love to hear about them!






Author: hellokidsart

The Messy Artist is a special place to create art. We offer year-round art classes for children 18 months through adulthood. In addition to art classes from September through June, we offer summer art camp and Drop-In and Play art activities for kids between our regular sessions. Our bright, colorful studio is also the perfect place for a kid’s birthday party! The Messy Artist children’s art center was created and designed by Owner/Director Donna Bernstein, a professional educator and artist. The curriculum is inspired and guided by Donna’s teaching experience and research in child development, as well as her passion for art. At The Messy Artist, art lessons for kids entertain and enrich their brains, bodies, and hearts.

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