Art Bridges - Hildegard Center: Family Tree

Art Bridges - Hildegard Center: Family Tree (art and character studies)

Children have many family members and pets and friends who are “honorary” family. Have students discuss their family and describe how they look. This project can hold lots of different people. The child needs to put themselves at the top of the tree.

Grade Levels K-4

Note: instructions and materials based on a class of 25 students. Adjust as needed.

Family Tree Example
family-tree.jpgFamily Tree Example

Family Tree Example


1. Decorate the styrofoam cone first. Modeling clay will create a bark-like texture. To apply, take a small amount of clay and roll into a ball, then flatten into a circle about the size of a quarter. Push it into the styrofoam and use fingers to work in edges. Continue until cone is covered. Allow clay to form texture rather than smooth surface.

2. Have students use colored pencils to draw full figures as well as faces on white construction paper.

3. Have students cut leaves of any size or shape out of construction paper in natural tones and shades of Green, Yellow and Red. Blick construction paper is heavy enough to withstand rubbing and hold its shape in the finished project. Place the leaf shapes over the rubbing plates and rub with the crayons.

4. Glue the paper shapes to the top half inch of the toothpicks. Put aside to dry.

5. Pull small pieces of the modeling clay off of the stick. Press it on the cone starting at the bottom. Vary the colors and let the clay blend. Cover the whole cone (not the bottom!).

6. Start at the top and push the child’s self portrait into the top of the cone. Pull it out and place a dot of glue on the end of the toothpick; re-insert the self portrait into the hole in the top of the cone. 

7. Proceed down the tree with the people, pets and leaves.


  • Pure White Styrofoam Cone, 3-1/2"Dia x 9"H, need one per student
  • Metallic Pencils, share one 12-color set between three students
  • Colored Pencil share one 24-color set between three students
  • Washable White Glue, one 4-oz bottle per student 
  • Watercolor Pads, 9" x 12", need one sheet per student
  • Premium Construction Paper,  12" x 18", assorted colors, need one sheet per student 
  • Rubbing Plates, Optical Illusion set, share one set across classroom
  • Modeling Clay, Green, and Yellow share two boxes each across classroom
  • Construction Paper Crayons, share one 16-color pack between three students
  • Toothpicks

National Standards

Content Standard #1 — Understanding and applying media, techniques and processes.

K-4 Students use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner

5-8 Students select media, techniques and processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of their choices

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