Activity of the month

Make a winter tree sun catcher

Winter is a lovely time to get out into nature. Icy mornings turn the Downs into a winter wonderland with frozen puddles and the grass sparkling with frost. If we are lucky enough to have snow, you can spot the tracks of birds and mammals criss-crossing the Downs hunting for food or shelter.

Many of the trees are bare at this time of year having lost their leaves in autumn. This makes it easy to spot the lichen that grows on their branches. These curious growths are easily overlooked, but get up close with a magnifying lens and you can discover some amazing colours, shapes and patterns.

This is also a great time of year to explore the different shapes of trees, when the lack of leaves reveals the ‘skeletons’, or patterns of branches and twigs. Why not explore the silhouettes of some of our native trees, and make a colourful sun catcher! Download this month’s activity sheet to find out how.

You will need

  •  The templates from the download
  • An A4 sheet of acetate (you can get this in most craft shops)
  •  Sharpie pens/permanent markers/permanent fine liners
  •  Black paper for a frame
  •  Scissors
  •  A glue stick
  • A scalpel (and an adult to help with this)

Step-by-step guide

  1. Choose your template. There are four different trees to choose from, and for each tree there is a simple and a harder version. Place your acetate on top of the template and use a little masking tape to hold it in place. Trace the black lines with a black sharpie or permanent marker
  2.  Turn your acetate over and colour in the back to create your own design. You could create a simple blue sky or sunset, or you might like to colour in each section like a stained glass window. Turn the acetate as you work to avoid smudging the colours.
  3. Another way of creating a stained glass window effect is with coloured tissue paper. After tracing your tree onto acetate, create a collage by sticking strips of coloured tissue paper on the reverse side.
  4. You might like to cut out a frame from some black paper. Ask an adult to help you with this as it is easier with a scalpel. Attach this to your picture with a little glue.
  5. Find a nice window to display your art work. Next time you are out on the Downs, see if you can spot any of the four trees!

Photographs © Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project.