Don’t Throw It Away! 7 Things To Make Out Of Your Christmas Tree In January

There’s nothing quite like bringing a real Christmas tree into your home over the festive season. The shape, the smell, the needles stabbing you in the feet. Whether you went with Pine, Spruce of Fir, eventually January will arrive and it will be time to let it go. There will also be a load of other people wanting to get rid. Hello, free resources! There are lots of things that you can make and to be honest, the sky is the limit. This blog post contains 7 ideas to get you started and spark your creativity. Make them yourself and make them with your children and students. Here’s to a positive start to 2021!

Now is the time to send out the call to your community for trees after the festive season comes to an end. Depending on your situation, you might be able to offer collection. Otherwise just ask people to deliver their trees so that you can use them to make awesome stuff! Some will, others won’t but if you don’t ask, you won’t get!

Important Note: All of the things in this post are going to give you opportunities to use tools with students. Take the time to introduce them properly and have conversations that are going to help students keep themselves and others safe. If you haven’t used sheath knives yet, check out our Knife Basics page.

Wooden Spinners

Check out this post in our Project Inspiration Series on How to Make Wooden Spinners. Whether you use it to incorporate measurement skills or you just want to have a massive ‘Nature Beyblade’ competition, this project is a win.

Log Santas

One use that we’ve found for a log cut on an angle is these adorable log Santas which students made to sell at our Grade 3 Christmas Market. Sawing the trunk on an angle provides you with a lovely, free-standing shape that you can do lots with. You can burn patterns, paint designs or simply write messages of 2021 positivity.

Harry Potter Wands

“It’s Levi-O-sa, not Levio-SAR.” Channel your inner geek and make something that you can pretend you bought at Ollivanders with Hagrid. Again, make sure that you’ve been to check out our Knife Basics before getting stuck in.

Small World Settings

Create some trees in your small world setting. Where else is it ok to have elephants and dinosaurs hanging out in the same place? Alternatively, you might want to season your most recent concoction in the mud kitchen with a sprinkle of magical needles. Let your imagination go wild!

Noughts and Crosses

Also known as ‘Tic Tac Toe’ by our friends across the pond, this is a cute little project which involves a fair amount of sawing. You’ll also need a soldering iron to create the lines on the board and pieces. Alternatively, this could be done with pens and markers. We used bow saws to cut the game board from the trunk and hacksaws to cut the counters from the thicker branches.

Baubles and Gift Tags

Being able to say that next year’s tree decorations or take-home-crafts are going to be made out of last year’s Christmas tree is pretty cool. And once you cut the discs, you can do anything with them that you like. Paint them, brand them or simply leave them au naturel. The sky is the limit.

Key Rings

Get some practise in with your concave cuts, thumb pushes and stop cuts. Oh, and there’s some drilling too. Check out this post from out Projection Inspiration Series on How To Make Wooden Key Rings.

Other uses for left over Christmas Trees

  • Burn it (cue creosote discussion here)
  • Protect plants from frost with it
  • Mulch it
  • Recycle it
  • Donate it to a good cause (e.g. in some places, they are used to reinforce sand dunes against erosion from the sea!)

So there you have it, a little inspiration for some of the things that you can make instead of just throwing out your Christmas Tree. If you’ve got any other ideas, we’d love to hear about them!

Developing Your Outdoor Learning Space Using Wooden Pallets

When it comes to developing your outdoor learning space, there are a couple of ground rules that you should be keeping in mind:

  1. Don’t do anything without involving the learners
  2. Never forever
  3. Own the process, not the product

Enter stage right, the humble wooden pallet: the sturdy, dependable, unsung hero of space development. Stack them up, screw them together or chop them into pieces; the possibilities are endless. Below are a whole host of ways that you can utilise these wooden beauties to develop useful elements in your outdoor learning spaces. But first, a a quick word on sourcing them.

It is possible to get your hands on some really good pallets, but also some total rubbish. If you can get hold EPAL pallets, great. Our school receives frequent deliveries on wooden pallets, so there’s usually a couple lying next to our bins.

If you’re getting them from your local building site and don’t want to get yourself in trouble, make sure you ask. If you’re a little more daring and don’t mind high-tailing it down the road while being chased, then crack on.

Tables

When stacking pallets to make a table, remember to take into account the height of the students that will be using them. Although wooden pallets are pretty stable when stacked, a couple of well-placed screws will ensure that they go nowhere. For taller students, it is possible to flip the pallets onto their side. As you can see in the pictures, we’ve used the pieces of wood from our old playground climbing frame for the table top that was dismantled to make way for our new one. Keep your eyes open and get materials where you can.

Mud kitchens

Need a place to crack on with making a mud pie? Perhaps it’s your friends birthday and they need a beautiful cake. Or maybe you just need somewhere to mix up some mud porridge to work out what the fussy Miss Goldilocks was on about. Mud kitchens are awesome and if you don’t already have one, it should be on your “to think about” list. Buy one if you want, but if you’re tight on the old budget then look no further than the wooden pallet. The photos above are the mud kitchens that we have at our school, but a quick search on Pinterest will send your creative juices spiralling too!

Bug Hotels

In order to create a bug hotel that is as attractive as possible for the little critters, variety is the name of the game. Stacking pallets is a great way to give you lots of little slots that you can fill with all kinds of homely delights. Throw in a couple of screws to ensure stability and away you go. Involve learners by doing some research into the best materials to fill your bug hotel with and get them collecting.

Storage

The old faithful doing what it does best. Holding stuff. Whether you need to organise sticks, plant pots or plastic diggers, the wooden pallet has got your back. Just need things keeping off the floor? Easy.

Planting

Stand them up to hold pots or lie them down to break up your vegetable garden. They’re pleasing for plant pots and useful for potatoes. A lick of blackboard paint goes nicely and also makes your space look like it belongs on Pinterest.


A word to the wise: Your new wooden pallet construction might look beautiful in the first week or so, depending on the quality of the ones you found. It isn’t going to stay that way. It will get weathered and its newness will fade, but it will be strong, it will be stable and it won’t let you down. Wooden pallets for the win.

So there you have it. Take inspiration and feel free to use ideas that take your fancy. Let us know what you do with your pallets if we haven’t mentioned it here and we’ll share it with our community. The possibilities are endless.