Passionate About Cincinnati
and the Moms Who Live Here

Art Adventure: We Planted a Tree

My toddler is becoming more of a Toddler every day and is requiring a LOT of gross motor play. So, we haven’t been having as many art adventures around our home as I’d like. Since I have an in-home art studio, I decided to move a little table up for him so he can make things while I work. We will see how long this lasts, but it is nice to think about being able to make art during the day! If it works out well, I can give you a little sneak peek at our studio space in a later post, but that also means I have a lot of cleaning to do!

We Planted a Tree by Diane Muldrow, with illustrations by Bob Staake.

We Planted a Tree by Diane Muldrow, with illustrations by Bob Staake.

Our picture book inspiration is We Planted A Tree by Diane Muldrow, with illustrations by Bob Staake. The book is written as a poem, a simple ode to the both purpose and beauty of trees and their floral family members as well as a tear-inducing reminder that our little friends who dig in the dirt with us now will grow up too. The illustration style is very modern, colorful, and full of the detail that is indicative of Bob Staake’s work. It is less busy than his other books, but that serves to match the poetry.
endpapersplantedatreeMy co-adventurer (Ezra, aged 2.5) and I took a close look at the endpapers for the book (something Staake is known for), which feature rows and rows of simple circle-topped trees, with basic and colorful trunks. I wanted to use non-traditional materials to add texture to the trees, to we looked around the yard and found Sweetgum balls- the spiky fruit from a neighbor’s Sweetgum tree. Free and very cool!


What you’ll need: 

What you'll need for this art adventure! And don't you just LOVE the wood panelling?

What you’ll need for this art adventure! And don’t you just LOVE the wood panelling?


  • white paper for backgrounds (would also be cool on brown “butcher” paper if you have it)
  • colorful circles (the more sizes the better, but we are running low on construction paper here! D’oh!)
  • paint
  • containers for paint (applesauce cups are my new favorite thing to save)
  • Sweetgum balls
  • glue (bottles or cups and Q-tips)
  • oil pastels



What you’ll do:

Show the endpapers (those are the inside front and back of the book, if you’re not sure) to y0ur young friends, and say that we are “planting” some trees like those on our own papers. Give out a few circles and have them glue them to your paper. I really would have liked to have different sizes of trees, but we may just have to do this work again!

The fun part is adding texture to the trees! We grabbed the Sweetgum balls, dipped them in paint, and stamped them on our trees. Ezra chose red and grey, then wanted me to mix the red into pink, which was a favorite color today, but you could use any color.

stamping1 stamping2


These don’t need to completely dry before adding oil pastels, which will be used to make tree trunks, roots, etc. Ezra decided that it would be more fun to pull all of the paper onto the floor to draw. Which is great, except for the shadowy photos! He also thought it was a better idea to draw on my work (on the right) than his.

oilpastels2 oilpastels1


I am, of course, thinking of a million ways to add to this project, but this was a perfect amount of art time for a wily toddler boy this afternoon.

What books are inspiring you? What are your little artists up to? Let me know what sorts of art adventures you’re going on!


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