Barking Up the Right Tree


Explore and display textures of tree bark in a patterned arrangement of positive and negative space.


1. Measure and cut at least eight 6-inch (15 cm) squares of manilla paper. Peel the paper wrappers from Crayola® Multicultural Crayons.

2. Find several different textures of tree bark. Make crayon rubbings with various colors. Try different pressures and combinations of colors.

3. Select at least six of the squares. Arrange them in an original repetitive pattern. Cut shapes from the other two squares to make more intricate patterns. Use positive and negative shapes (shapes remaining when a positive shape is cut out and removed). Experiment to find the design that is most interesting.

4. Glue finished designs to a larger piece of paper for display, or create a class mural.

Safety Guidelines

Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.

Scissors—ATTENTION: The cutting edges of scissors are sharp and care should be taken whenever cutting or handling. Blunt-tip scissors should be used only by children 4 years and older. Pointed-tip scissors should be used only by children 6 years and older.

Wood—By its nature, wood is rough and may contain splinters or sharp points


  • What a great way to involve parents or student partners. The rubbings are an ideal weekend homework assignment-just send the materials home with each child.
  • Adapt the exploration to match children's skills. For students with mobility and motor coordination challenges, for example, find a partner or use masking tape to hold the paper while the child rubs the crayon.
  • Use the same idea to tune children in to leaf shapes, seed pods, or other designs in nature.
  • Compare and contrast types of tree bark. Exchange rubbings and information on the types of trees found in different areas of the world, perhaps with grandparents or another classroom.

Related Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

Share on Facebook


crayola supplies
  • Multicultural Crayons
  • Glue Sticks
  • Blunt-Tip Scissors
  • Construction Paper
  • Crayola Crayon Pad
household supplies
  • ruler



  • Pre-K and Kindergarten
  • Grades 1 to 3
  • Grades 4 to 6
  • Special Needs


  • Language Arts
  • Math
  • Science
  • Visual Arts


  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Multiple Sessions


  • Students measure and cut squares of manila paper.

  • Students observe and compare different tree-trunk textures.

  • Students make a variety of crayon rubbings with natural materials, then arrange them in creative repetitive patterns using positive and negative shapes.


Research Canada Standards
Research UK Standards
Research U.S. Standards