This vibrant thankful tree craft is a creative way to teach kids the meaning of thanksgiving and makes a lovely centerpiece for your family’s Thanksgiving table. Kids will enjoy making and decorating their leaves with our easy 2-ingredient clay dough recipe.
I’ve seen several Thankful Tree crafts in my travels around the preschool and kid blogs in recent years, and this year, we decided to make one of our own.
See all of our Thanksgiving Crafts here.
What’s a Thankful Tree?
If you’ve never heard of a Thankful Tree before, you fill a jar or a vase with some twigs, and your kids make leaves to decorate it with. On each leaf, they write one thing that they’re thankful for. Related: Check out our Paper Plate Thankful Turkey Craft.
Most of the Thankful Trees I’ve seen have leaves made out of coloured paper, but I wanted to put a unique spin on our tree, so we used our easy white clay dough (baking soda, corn starch and water) to make our leaves. Then we painted our leaves in some beautiful fall colours, wrote on them, and then varnished them to make them shine.
What kind of paint?
We used acrylic craft paint to paint our leaves. We thinned it with a bit of water so the consistency would be more like watercolour paints. Watercolours will work too. We painted our clay dough butterflies with ours, but our colours are a bit too bright. I wanted earthy, autumn colours for our leaves, hence the acrylics.
I am so thrilled with the results. Our clay leaves are truly beautiful, and the activity is a wonderful reminder for kids and adults alike, that even in the most challenging times, we still have many things to be grateful for.
I hope you’ll make our Clay Leaf Thankful Tree with your kids to display in your home or classroom this holiday season.
Dry-time for clay leaves
Note: Your clay leaves will need to dry overnight, so you’ll need to make them at least one day before painting them and decorating your tree.
How to Make our Thankful Tree with White Clay Leaves
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- Homemade White Clay (Recipe and How-To Here)
- Leaf Shaped Cookie Cutters
- Yarn (I used this kind for the fall colours)
- Acrylic Craft Paint
- Black Sharpie Marker
- Acrylic Craft Varnish/Sealer
- Paint brush
How to Make a Thankful Tree with Painted White Clay Leaves
- Gather your Twigs
Head outside with the kids, and gather some twigs. You’ll want sturdy twig with lots of off-shoots so you can hang many leaves from them. Once home, arrange your twigs in a vase or large jar.
- Make your Clay
Using the tutorial in this post, make your clay dough leaves and allow them to dry overnight.
- Paint your leaves
To paint our leaves, we used acrylic craft paint thinned with a bit of water. We put a drop of paint on our pallet, and dipped into it with a very wet brush.
- Write on your leaves
On each leaf, write one thing that you’re thankful for. .
Brush on a a coat of acrylic craft varnish for some shine and to make the colours pop.
- Add yarn and hang
Loop some yarn through the hole in your ornaments, knot to secure, and hang them on your thankful tree.
You may also like our:
- Glittered Clay Dough Leaf Ornaments
- Cardboard Roll Turkey Table Toppers
- Fall Leaf Crafts and Activities Collection for Kids
Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.