To start off, I recommend making all of the dough ahead of time and placing it in little baggies so it is easier to hand out in your classroom. Of course, you can always make the dough in your room with your students- but making it ahead of time helps cut down on time and clean-up.
Making Salt Dough Christmas Tree Ornaments
These ornaments were a total hit with my students this year! Easy to make, only a few ingredients and no need to bake them! Keep on reading to find out how you can make these festive Christmas Trees in your classroom.
Each student will need a small fistful of dough (about the size of a tangerine). You will need to multiply the recipe based on how many students you have. I have 26 students this year so I made 4 batches of dough. If you make a batch at a time, you will know when you have enough baggies of dough. 🙂
1 cup salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup water
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. After mixing a bit with a spoon, you might have to just dig in and mix the rest with your hands. The dough should have the consistency of play-doh. If it is sticky, add more flour. If it is dry, add a little bit more water.
Use a piece of wax paper on student desks for them to make their ornaments on top of. This will prevent it sticking to the table. Start by having students make the tree shape by adding 7 “rolls” of dough that increase in size. The rolls should be stuck together but don’t need to be pressed flat. Then, have students add a trunk to their tree by making a small square/rectangle by squishing the dough. I have them start with a small ball of dough, squish it flat between their hands and then shape it using their fingers (side to side, side to side, etc.).
After they have added their trunk to their tree, they can then add their ornaments on top. I limit my kiddos to 4-6 ornaments. If you allow more than this, they will become a tree full of ornaments that will be very difficult to paint! As with the other pieces, they just have to lightly press the ornaments onto the surface of the tree. They sit best if they are between the “branch rolls”.
As you can see in the two student examples above, each tree is going to look different! I go around while they are working and make sure that all of their pieces are stuck together and that they didn’t get it too thin. I have my students write their name on a post-it note and we staple it to their piece of wax paper. This makes it easy to know who’s is who’s when we go to paint them in a few days.
Place all of your trees on trays (or a shelf/table) to dry. We usually make our ornaments on a Friday afternoon and then wait to paint them until later the following week. I have found that this recipe takes between 36-48 hours to dry fully. The longer you can wait to paint, the better off you will be. Be sure to check the ornaments in about 24 hours. If the top is dry but the bottom isn’t simply flip them over. Make sure that the top is really dry or you will squish the ornaments when you flip them.
After the ornaments have dried, have students use acrylic paint to make them beautiful. I require my students to paint their tree green, but leave the rest of the ornament colors up to them. I allows allow them to paint the top “roll” either green or gold (to represent a star).
Have students paint their tree right on top of the wax paper. This way you won’t have a mess on your desks to clean up after. Allow the paint to dry overnight. It will dry with a “flat” appearance. If you want your ornaments to have a shine to them, simply spray them with a clear acrylic sealer. Depending on where you live, you might want to do this outside or at least in a well ventilated area. DO NOT spray this in your classroom when you will have students in your room! If you must spray it in your classroom, spray at the end of the day when you can leave your room.
Once the sealer has dried, use some hot glue to attach a ribbon or string loop to the back of the ornaments. I love using a piece of hemp twine that you can find at most craft stores, but any ribbon/string will work perfectly! Allow time for the hot glue to dry and then wrap up the ornaments! It is just that simple.
**Note: If you do not have time to let the ornaments sit to dry for an extended period of time, you can place them in the oven at 250° F to bake them. Allow them to bake for 1.5-2 hours. The ornaments can stay on the wax paper while they bake, however you will need to remove the post-it note names before placing them in the oven…
Looking for another ornament recipe? These cookie cutter ornaments use flour, salt and cinnamon and smell absolutely delicious. Click the image below to go read all about how you can make them in your classroom.