Owl in a Cardboard Tube Tree

My favorite crafting material is obviously scrapbook paper (both cardstock and patterned paper), but my second favorite crafting material is probably cardboard tubes. I love turning an empty tube into something fun. Today, an owl in a tree. 


Owl in a Cardboard Tube Tree


  • cardboard tubes
  • scissors
  • glue gun
  • Folk Art paint (brown and black)
  • foam brush
  • construction paper or cardstock (brown and yellow) 
  • googly eyes


Use the scissors to open up a paper towel tube by cutting it lengthwise. Cut an oval hole about 2/3 toward one end on the opposite side of the opening. Cut a toilet paper tube in half lengthwise, then cut one end of each piece on an angle. 

Water down some black paint and use the foam brush to apply it to the inside of the cardboard tube. The moisture will loosen the fibers and relax the curve of the tube. You still want some curve so that your tree will stand upright on its own, so don't soak it. Let the paint dry. 

Meanwhile, cut an owl shape from brown construction paper or cardstock. Add googly eyes and a triangle beak. 

Now it's time for the glue gun. Glue the two toilet paper tube pieces to opposite sides of the paper towel tube to form branches. Then, draw lines of glue vertically along the length of the tree trunk. Vary their lengths and spacing to mimic tree bark. Do the same with the branches, making sure that the glue lines travel the length of the branches, rather than vertically, which would look unnatural. (Speaking of unnatural, look at my index finger. At any given time, there's a 50% chance I have paint on my hands.) 

 Add a coat of the watered-down black paint and watch the texture emerge like magic!

Use undiluted brown paint to add highlights and accents to the tree. Use as much or as little as you want. When the paint is dry, glue the owl in the opening in the tree.

I love how the tree looks against the dark background, but it looks pretty good in the light as well. If I were making these in the classroom, I'd do a black bulletin board with the moon shining down over a whole bunch of owl-filled trees. 

Some of you may be wondering about using glue guns in a classroom setting. I taught 9-11 year olds, who are certainly old enough to use them without direct supervision. Obviously, I always went over safety considerations and making smart choices and the consequences that would result from behaving carelessly or stupidly, but in 11 years I never had a problem. If I were doing this project with younger children, I'd find a parent volunteer to closely supervise.


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