Wood Slice Snowman Ornaments {Tutorial}

Every year I have my students make a holiday gift for their families. What they make seems to change every few years. I like to try new things, apparently. Hehe.

thumbprint snowman ornaments tutorial

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Last year, my students made some adorable snowman canvas ornaments. But this year, I switched it up, and simplified the project by using wood slices to make these fun thumbprint ornaments.

snowman ornaments tutorial

These were pretty easy to make. Keep reading!

What You'll Need
  • wood slices (with holes at the top)
  • blue acrylic paint
  • white acrylic paint
  • black paint markers (at least two)
  • orange paint markers (at least two)
  • q-tips

You can find the wood slices on Amazon.

You can find Mod Podge at your local craft store, but for ease, you can also find it on Amazon.

Here's What You Need to Do
Paint the wood slices blue. Depending upon the amount of time you have available to devote to this, you may want to paint the blue yourself. You will need to paint two coats.

Pull one or two students at a time to make the snowman. To create the snowman, paint your students' thumbs. They will make three thumbprints stacked on top of each other to create the three parts of the snowman. Be sure to apply fresh paint to their thumb before each thumbprint. Let dry.

Pull two students at a time to add details. Paint markers are easy to use and create bold lines and accents. Have students use the black paint marker to draw a hat, eyes, mouth, buttons, and arms. They will use the orange paint marker to draw a carrot nose.

*Pulling kids for these last two steps means you don't have to carve out time for the project at the expense of instruction. It also allows you to closely monitor and help students with the task (they get nervous about doing it wrong sometimes). If it seems overwhelming to pull them in small numbers, shake that feeling, it will go by much faster than you think. Chances are you have several opportunities each day to pull a few kids for 3 minutes at a time.

Use a q-tip dipped in white acrylic paint to create snowflakes. You can do this when you call students over to add their details, or you can call them over at a different time.

snowman ornament tutorial

Next, you'll want to seal the ornament with some Mod Podge. Use a foam brush to apply, it's much faster.

Finally, tie a piece of ribbon or jute through the hole. If you order the wood slices linked in this post, you'll also get the jute that is shown below.

snowman ornament tutorial

That's it!

This project is simply adorable, and lots of fun for students to make. BUT, it isn't always perfect. Some of the wooden slices may crack when you paint them (see pic below).

There is no way to predict whether or not this will happen. In speaking with an avid wood worker and carver (my dad-hehe), I learned that when wood dries too fast it can crack. So, if the wood isn't properly aged and then you paint it (which can be drying), it isn't uncommon for cracks to appear.

Sometimes those cracks might be negligible (think hairline crack). Other times, the cracks might be large rendering the slice unusable. It's best to start with dry wood, aged at least two years to help prevent things like cracking. Sadly, there's no way to really know how long the manufacturers of these wood slices are aging the wood before they sell it.

So, how can you prevent the cracks? The jury is still out on that. There are waxes that can be used to help seal wood and prevent it from cracking, but you cannot paint over it. You just have to know going in that you may have some cracking.

Last year I made these, I had about 4-5 slices crack (2-3 of those I could not use at all). This year, I only had one crack, and it was a hairline crack at that. Cracking will vary from batch to batch.

Be sure to have extra slices on hand. I purchase the sets with at least 30 slices (and I usually have about 23 students or so). This way, if a few crack, I still have enough for my class.

Here's how I handle cracks.

If you notice a tiny crack in the slice (see below), no worries, when you seal the ornament with Mod Podge, it will be protected. After sealing the entire ornament, put another coat or two of Mod Podge directly over the small crack, on the front and back.

If you experience any large cracks, you might find that those slices aren't usable. These would be the cracks that make the wood split apart to create a large open space, or go through the hole at the top. This is why making sure you have extras on hand is a good idea.

Kids love to create things, and they always enjoy making something special for their families. I hope you can use this idea, or modify it to meet your needs this holiday season. :)


thumbprint snowman ornaments tutorial

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