Pipe cleaners family tree... The STEAM way!

Updated: May 30, 2020


Are you studying family members?

Try this easy craft and give it a twist to make it a STEAM activity for your ESL class.

You will only need:

  • Pipe cleaners (assorted colors)

  • One small rock per student

  • Paper

  • Markers

  • Scissors


  • Ask your students to find a small rock and bring it to the class.

  • Once that you have studied the vocabulary, ask them how many family members are there in their families. Then, give them the number of pipe cleaners they will need according to their math. Remind them that each pipe cleaner will work for two family members.

  • With the pipe cleaners set flat on the table, have the students placing the rock on them, right in the middle. Then, ask them to wrap the rock with the pipe cleaners and twist them to form the base of the tree, then the branches.

  • On little pieces of paper, students will draw each one of their family members. These will act as the tree's leaves.

  • Finally, they need to hang the portraits from the branches.

  • When the trees are ready, students can talk about their family.

ESL relevance:

With this hands-on activity, the students will learn and put into practice:

  • Family vocabulary

  • Numbers

  • Colors

  • Extra vocabulary, such as "rock", "pipe cleaner", "portrait", "tree", "branches".

  • Adjectives: big, small, flat.

  • Verbs: twist, wrap, hang.

  • Structures: "How many?", "She is my...", "He is my...", "This is my...".

STEAM behind it:

  • Talk about the different types of rocks and trees.

  • Students will need to make a division. Number of pipe cleaners divided by the number of family members in their family.

  • Students will learn how some materials can bend without breaking.

  • Children will learn the original uses of a pipe cleaner.

  • By manipulating the materials, they will need to build a tree and make it stand still. They will have to understand that different shapes and surfaces make sturdy trees.

  • Students will draw portraits and design the tree.

  • According to the number of family members in their family, they will need to make a division.

Note for ESL teachers

The results will also depend on the time you have to teach your class. In my case, I only have forty-five minutes, and in my class there are at least thirty students.

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