How does a secondary school teacher get stuck into a tree decorating competition without creating an ounce of waste? And getting the students engaged and aware of their Christmas eco footprint? Our lovely Hannah, part of the KiteNest family, shares her latest classroom project.
This year, when my school announced a Christmas Tree competition, I instantly had a think about all the waste it was going to cause. I know it's great to have some fun this time of the year, but questions run through my mind. Would every class take their Christmas tree home? Would they throw away their decorations? Would there be a huge increase in the amount of plastic waste we'd be throwing away on the last day of term?
Having a conversation with my tutor group, we decided that we didn't want to add to that waste, and came up with an entirely eco-tree for our entry.
They wanted to concentrate on respect and responsibility for this tree - both for the planet and for people. They knew that not all students could afford to go out and buy decorations, or put in a donation for the tree. Without singling anyone out, they decided to make everything themselves - and this is how we did it!
What you need:
- Large sheets of cardboard
- Water based paint (green)
- White paper
- Wooden pegs
Step 1: Firstly, we had to locate some big cardboard. Luckily, our site staff are brilliant and found us these sheets of cardboard that are bigger than me! After bribing them with some of my vegan banana bread, they brought up as much as they could.
Step 2: We cut them into triangles, with a slit down the middle so they could all fit together, then came the messiest step of the process - we painted them green with water based paint. Luckily, this paint washes out of your clothes!
Step 3: We then slotted the tree together and used some wool to tie the top together.
Step 4: Next, we made our base. We created an open top cube and, knowing that it's not easy to fold cardboard, scored the inside of the folds that we wanted. We folded it into a box with no lid. We tied some more wool around it to keep it closed.
Step 5: We positioned the tree on top of our base. Next, we decided where each of the "branches" would go and cut indents into the cardboard box so that they could slot inside and stay in place.
Step 6: On to our decorations. Again, the students wanted to make their own decorations, that were all plastic-free. We decided that all white paper decorations would be perfect. They would all look uniform and everyone in the class could at least make a snowflake. Three girls worked together to create the star for the top - cutting and folding paper into each individual spire and then connecting them. The star was then tied to the top with another piece of wool.
Once we had a huge pile of paper decorations - including snowflakes, baubles, angels and stars - we had to find a way to attach them to the tree. We discussed lots of different methods, before we decided on putting holes in the cardboard to loop the wool through. At first, I tried a hole punch, thinking it would make a nice, neat circle in the cardboard… but it didn't work! So I resorted to stabbing through the cardboard with a pair of very big scissors. We looped the wool through the holes around the tree.
Each decoration was hung up onto the wool using some little wooden pegs that I already had - and voila! An eco-friendly Christmas Tree that we had a blast making! I hope it has inspired you in some shape or form - showing how you can recycle and create magic from waste.