Christmas crafts can be more than making traditional snowmen or frosting cookies. Students will develop deeper connections with the outside world when they use natural materials for winter art projects.

The winter temperatures in North America’s temperate zone drop, causing trees to lose their leaves. Evergreens remain evergreen, and animals survive. Snow covers the ground and protects plants and other organisms from the cold.

Pinecones, branches, and seed pods are some of the most common winter materials that can be used for crafting.

Students will learn valuable lessons by transforming these materials to create something unique and innovative.

When we use the natural resources already there, we can reduce our waste and help the planet.

We can transform ordinary objects into something extraordinary by using our imaginations, experimenting, and being creative.


The circular shape of wreaths represents eternity since there is no beginning or end. They are a popular decoration to mark the end of the year or the start of winter. Evergreens were used in wreaths to celebrate the end of the year and the beginning of winter in ancient pagan cultures. They symbolized prosperity and protection. You can add rosehips, winterberries, or pinecones to give your wreath some color that will last the season.

Evergreen wreaths

Evergreen clippings can be used to make wreaths, which adds to their eternal symbolism because they are green throughout the year.

Pinecone wreaths

You can make a whole wreath from pinecones if you have enough! You can make them in the traditional wreath shape or experiment with shapes like snowflakes.

Bird Feeders

It can be lonely in winter, but it is also a time to look at the small things that bring you joy. It’s a wonderful time to bring in feathered friends and to give back to the natural world. Bird feeders can help birds survive cold winters. Bird feeders can provide warmth and energy for birds that are struggling to find food sources due to deforestation. Bird feeders make wonderful gifts for holidays!

Pinecone bird feeder

This tasty winter treat requires only a pinecone, and a few ingredients, and is very easy to make. It can be hung in your yard, where it is easy to see through a window if you have the space. You will get visits from many bird species, including chickadees and titmice. You’ll see the same birds throughout the year with a little luck and by keeping your pinecone stocked. This art project will keep you busy all winter.

This is one of the more than 130 experiences in Project Learning Tree’s Environment Experiences for Early Childhood guide, which helps kids discover the world outside.

Lights, Lanterns, and Luminaries

Many cultures have the tradition of lighting luminaries, lanterns, and candles during this time of the year.

Kwanzaa celebrations use a Kinara candle holder. The seven principles of African culture are represented by each of the seven candles on the Kinara.

Bodhi Day (or Rohatsu) commemorates when the Buddha was able to attain enlightenment from the Bodhi tree. Bodhi trees are decorated with lights and other colorful decorations.

Diwali, a festival of light, is celebrated by Hindus and Jains between mid-October to mid-November. It coincides with the new moon. The lights are lit on the darkest night in the Hindu lunisolar Calendar to remind people of the Hindu belief of good over evil.

Hanukkah sees the lighting of the menorah to commemorate the rededication and miracle of an eight-day supply of oil.

The ancient tradition of lantern lighting celebrates the winter solstice as well as the return to the sun.

Christians light an Advent wreath on the four Sundays prior to Christmas. Each candle represents hope, love, and joy.

Parol – Filipino Christmas lantern

You can make a traditional Filipino Christmas lantern using sticks and materials from nature. You can make a 2D version for younger students instead of the 3D one shown below.

Tree ornaments

Encourage your children to create Christmas tree ornaments and other decorative items that will brighten up the house during the holiday season. This will help them improve their fine motor skills.

If you add a beard to these adorable Christmas gnomes, they could double as Santa Claus!

This is the craft to make Rudolph look like a “nut” flying Santa’s sleigh through a snowstorm.

Santa ornaments

The pollinators, such as butterflies and bees, love milkweed. You can see why milkweed is so important. It is the only plant that hosts the monarch butterfly. The milkweed leaves are what caterpillars eat to grow into monarch butterflies.

Santa ornaments can also be made from other natural materials, such as peanut shells or dried okra pods.

Ornaments in the shape of trees

When we think of the holidays, evergreen trees and Christmas trees are often in our minds. These ornaments are made from materials taken directly from trees.

Star ornaments

Winter months have longer nights which means there is more time to stargaze. Natural materials such as sticks, pinecones, and milkweed pods are able to make star-shaped ornaments.

Poinsettia ornament

Poinsettias, which are native to Mexico and Central America, were used in Aztec religious ceremonies. These flowers are a symbol of Christmas because they bloom at Christmastime. These flowers are often called “La flor de Nochebuena”, or “The Christmas Eve bloom.” To make a poinsettia ornament, you will need to use navy beans and pumpkin seeds.

Decor for the holidays and other crafts

Grab the branches, hot glue, twigs, and perhaps even a winterberry to put Rudolph’s nose.

To make these twigs, and other natural pieces, shine like snowflakes all you need is some white paint.

To celebrate Hanukkah, you can make DIY dreidels with small pinecones or acorns.

Pomander balls

A pomander, a type of perfume ball that people carry around in their pockets to protect themselves against disease and infection, is also known as a pomander. Oranges are the most popular choice for pomander balls, although there were many other fruits used in the past. Oranges were considered a luxury during the Great Depression and were often kept in stockings to provide holiday gifts for families that couldn’t afford them. You can add cloves to oranges as an air freshener, decoration, and gift for the holidays. The fresh pomander balls last several days while the dried ones can keep for many years.

Wintertime nature connections

We have included some bonus activities for students who need extra energy between winter crafting.

Find out how evergreens provide shelter for animals in harsh winter conditions. Use these ideas to get your students outside and observe wildlife.

Adopt a tree. Your student will be able to “adopt” a tree and gain an appreciation for the tree and its surroundings. By keeping a journal and visiting the tree regularly, students can keep track of its changing characteristics throughout the year. Find engaging resources that will go with the Project Learning Tree activity.

You can become a tree. This Project Learning Tree activity will make students laugh and inspire their imaginations. Students dress up in homemade tree costumes. Plus, they will get to dress up as trees! A bonus? They’ll also be able to see the different parts of a tree, and how they work.

Learn how to make your animal tracks in the snow with this exercise. Use critical thinking to help you identify which tracks are nearby and what they mean.

Learn about the melting point and how to simulate an avalanche. Prepare for winter with these 14 fun experiments and activities suggested by Project Learning Tree. You can even go on a winter scavenger hunt!

Vivian D. Craven

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