Branch Trees

We’ve been having some more windy days with small sticks falling into our yard. So I took a piece of scrap board and drilled some holes into it and made a little forest building toy. It was fun sticking the branches in to build the forest, but it was even more exciting when my son turned it into a scene for his Lego figures. It might also be a cute forest for the paper city figures.


  1. barbara
    January 3, 2011 at 12:35 am

    As always, genius + magic.

  2. I Live in an Antbed
    January 3, 2011 at 12:35 am

    So very, very wonderful!!!

  3. Lise
    January 3, 2011 at 12:42 am

    I swear, you amaze me more every day with your so-simple yet wonderful ideas! I must do this!

  4. Satoko
    January 3, 2011 at 12:48 am

    I LOVE the idea! Always so magical...thanks for sharing!

  5. MultipleMum
    January 3, 2011 at 1:03 am

    Eerily perfect for the Star Wars lefo figurines. Love it!

  6. Make mine Mid-Century
    January 3, 2011 at 1:20 am

    How beautiful and simple.

  7. Katherine
    January 3, 2011 at 1:45 am

    beautiful pictures :-)

  8. daisy
    January 3, 2011 at 2:02 am

    i like this. could also prove to be educational as seasons change this little lego people scene can morph with the weather!

  9. Books For Breakfast
    January 3, 2011 at 2:44 am

    Love it! But I'm afraid my two yr old demolition man would enjoy breaking the sticks more than he would building with them. Maybe when he turns twenty.

  10. Sherry
    January 3, 2011 at 2:52 am

    very cool!

  11. Kira
    January 3, 2011 at 2:56 am

    The simplicity of this is wonderful and beautiful! (the Harry Potter Lego figurines are perfect!)

  12. Jaimie
    January 3, 2011 at 3:09 am

    This is so cool. I just found your blog and don't know how I've been living without it all this time.

  13. Kristi
    January 3, 2011 at 3:33 am

    i love this.

  14. Nettie
    January 3, 2011 at 3:40 am

    I love this!! This will make a perfect background for some projects that I have in mind! Thank you!

  15. Jenny Hillman
    January 3, 2011 at 4:51 am

    Pretty and fun at the same time! I imagine this would be a lovely sort of thing to leave sitting out, even after playtime. Well done! :)

  16. Polkadotjes
    January 3, 2011 at 7:50 am

    genius. I wish I was a child!

  17. Elsa
    January 3, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Simple and beautiful. What a good idea!

  18. Helena
    January 3, 2011 at 10:29 am

    I can just say wow. So simple and so beautiful. I`ll do that this week!

  19. recovergirl
    January 3, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    seriously. what do you eat that makes your mind work like this? genius! I am so stealing this idea.

    January 3, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    found your blog the other day, i am in awe of your simple creations. what lucky children you have, i can't wait to see what else your mind is working on!

  21. medina family
    January 3, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    genius!! I agree with the others!

  22. Michele Pacey
    January 3, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    oh the beauty and simplicity... sigh... i imagine a mini version of myself strolling through the mini forest...

  23. Kristi@Creative Connections for Kids
    January 3, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    I just found your site! amazing work

  24. Lori Henriques
    January 3, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    oh my goodness. this is truly marvelous! and never before have i had the urge to use a drill. thanks! :)

  25. Joel Henriques
    January 3, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Thanks everybody! Yes, this took literally 5 minutes to make. It's very simple. I love the effect that the natural trees (sticks) have on the toy Lego figures, and the figures also add a nice scale to the woods. It sure is a cheap Lego expansion kit!

    daisy - Yes, I was thinking the same thing. It will be fun to gather branches throughout the different seasons. I actually used a beautiful flowering twig for one of the potted trees in my dollhouse for new photos that will be in my book. It would definitely look great for this forest as well.

  26. Minouche
    January 3, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    awwww! how sweet! + cool lego figures. The simplest ideas really are the best, aren't they?

  27. shoutingforha
    January 4, 2011 at 1:34 am

    What a brilliant idea! I love the idea of using it with the Harry Potter Legos (a gift from Santa this year).

  28. Sparrow's Nest
    January 4, 2011 at 4:00 am

    how cute is that! I love how everything you do is so artistic :) This is something I could see in a gallery, but you made it as a toy. so cool :)

  29. Maiz
    January 4, 2011 at 6:28 am

    This is so great, Joel. I'm going to take this to our preschool and let the kids drill the holes with my new little hand drill! That second photo is just priceless... what a cutie!

  30. cristina
    January 4, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    the forest simply takes my breath away..........
    this is why i ☼ loved teaching first grade for 26 years.

    Joel, visit when you can, to see your
    deer on cloth... nearly completed.

  31. ledispirit
    January 4, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    so nice and simple and great!

  32. Joel Henriques
    January 4, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Thanks everybody!

    cristina - Wow, the deer on cloth looks awesome! What a cool project. Also, love your amazing fireplace! Such a great photo.

  33. CathyAgent
    January 4, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    fabulous. I am going to the garage right now to get a board and the drill. my 5-year is going to love it. Finally, something else to do with that ever-growing collection of sticks we have.

  34. Capucine_o
    January 4, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    From blogs to your blog, I made a lovely travel to see all your articles...
    It's very nice and plaisant to see your creations and your children in situation...
    Bonne continuation ;D

  35. Stephanie Rose
    January 5, 2011 at 1:06 am

    seriously, you rock. This is freakin awesome. All of this is. The cheerios' box into the little doll house, the puppet from cardboard - how cool is that. I keep thinking, "Why didn't I think of something like that!" Simple, but not simple, you know (I tend to NOT make sense). So glad I found your blog.

  36. le banc moussu
    January 5, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    I love the way you create those lovely simple things.

  37. Jasmine Mirra
    January 6, 2011 at 1:20 am

    You never run out of ideas (and good ones...!)!

  38. Kimminita
    January 6, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Never knew there was Harry Potter Lego. As cool as your new project!

  39. t.m.
    January 7, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    I've been following your blog. It is inspiring! Do you sell your toys? I love te elephant puzzle, I'd love to purchase one if you sell them. I can't wait to purchase your book.

  40. Donna Wilson
    January 8, 2011 at 12:43 am

    so sweet to see a mini forest I love it x

  41. Joel Henriques
    January 8, 2011 at 3:34 am

    Thanks everyone!

    t.m. - So far, there is one company (Made in Me, from London) that is producing some of my wooden toys. They will be available soon. Hopefully sometime in the near future I will also be able to have the elephant puzzles produced. I'll let everyone know for sure! Thanks for the interest!

  42. Julia
    January 8, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I love the aesthetic of this. I find bare winter trees very inspiring.

    Can't wait to read your book!

  43. Christine K.
    January 8, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    Very nice, I like your ideas!

  44. rocKing´sKidi´s Elisa
    January 8, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Like the idea very much!!! And beautiful pictures, once again!

  45. Amber Morrisey @BirthRoutes
    January 9, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    What a simplistic and wonderful idea.


  46. Madame De Paname
    January 9, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    So poetic ! I really like this blog. It's a pity that my English is not perfect...

  47. Jill
    January 11, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Neat. Really neat.

  48. Laura
    January 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Awesome! I'm thinking Robin Hood in the forest!

    Laura in Ludwigsburg

  49. sam
    January 12, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    This is so beautiful. Brilliant!

  50. Hannah Showler
    January 14, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Such a simple and beautiful idea! Thank you so much for your brilliant ideas, your blog is just so inspiring.

  51. Amber
    January 16, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    I'm really jealous of your playful talent. Where do you come up with these things? You're amazing! And...what are you going to do when those precious children grow up? Also...I'm curious about the way you store your materials (cardboard, etc). Your environment appears so clear and simple, but these materials (paperclips, wood, tools, cardboard) must take up some sort of space. This is a struggle I have at the moment...I feel cluttered and at a lack of easy access (I really admire that you have that simple, open space...but that you must somewhere and somehow store these items). I know you don't need the encouragement (because it's in you and something you can't stop), but keep it up! :)

  52. Joel Henriques
    January 19, 2011 at 1:51 am

    Thanks everybody!

    Amber - Yes, It's definitely a struggle to keep things clean and somewhat organized. My technique is to have lots of shelves and drawers against every wall, so I can have empty space in center of the room. So far it's working pretty well.

  53. bicocacolors
    January 20, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Genio, eres un genio Joel!!!

  54. Sheri
    January 22, 2011 at 3:46 am

    This is so fun, Joel! Very simple, but just imagine the things that could be done with it, from child play to table centerpiece! Viola! Thanks.

  55. jurianne
    February 1, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Wow, Joel...your less-is-more-creativity is só inspiring. Beautiful!

  56. dana
    February 12, 2011 at 4:26 am

    Amazing Joel. Such a fresh, simple, and genius idea. Absolutely love it. Just stumbled on your blog today and I'm so happy to have found you. I run in the sewing blog circle so I enjoy jumping out to other artistic groups :).
    Thanks for sharing your talents!
    - dana

  57. allie
    February 24, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    This is a lovely idea - I can imagine children in my classroom engaging with it. We often use sticks with the sand/dirt/mud table and the children automatically stand them up like trees - it would be interesting to try this as a tool.

    Same with the flower building toy! I think I will definitely be building something like this for the classroom. Thank you!

  58. Oontje
    March 12, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Hi Joel, I tried this with my son. He loved it!
    You can see our creation here:

    Maybe you can replace the link to my blog in the sidebar by a link to this post? Thanks!

  59. Joel Henriques
    March 12, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Thanks everyone!

    Oontje - Ooh, your forest is wonderful! I love the toys too. And I'm very proud that the idea got your kids outside for an hour. Sometimes my kids prefer to stay inside too, but fresh air is good!

  60. Oontje
    March 12, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Ah, so you got what I said, even though google translate produced a very poor translation. And in the end, they played outside for more than four hours. A success! Thanks.

  61. Anonymous
    March 12, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    That is a cool forest! But his shirt is even cooler!! Where is it from?
    Marjon (netherlands)

  62. Joel Henriques
    March 16, 2011 at 2:47 am

    Oontje - Four hours, Awesome!

    Anonymous - I know, I love that print! They're actually just some Old Navy pajamas. Great print design though.

  63. June 9, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    This is one of my favourites! I have been recommending your Blog to all my friends and family :D

  64. June 27, 2011 at 3:01 am

    [...] (The craft above is found on his blog here.) [...]

  65. July 10, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Haha I love this!! And your son has good taste is lego's, having Harry Potter and Hagrid in the forrest just makes it seem so real :)

  66. September 7, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    [...] daughter loves flowers. And around the same time I thought of the branch tree idea, I came up with this flower building toy. I used some scrap wood and cut out shapes, then [...]

  67. Mo
    October 16, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Hi Joel (I've written about your wonderful ideas a couple of times on Babyccino but I just had to let you know that my son and I made this today and it was so fun and is such a great lovely thing to keep and update the branches / trees with the seasons (especially for my stick-collecting son!). What fun! Thank you so much for your always-inspiring ideas! Mo p.s. I'll happily send you a pic but please note I still have issues with your home being far better on 'light' than mine (and also pics were taken before bedtime!).

  68. October 20, 2011 at 4:01 am

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    [...] How-to, [...]

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  71. February 26, 2012 at 11:09 am

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    [...] Una de manualidades infantiles: ¿cómo es de bonito este bosque para jugar? Cómo no, del extraordinario blog (y uno de nuestros favoritos) Made by Joel. [...]

  73. April 24, 2013 at 9:01 am

    [...] Another thing that would be fun and simple to try, is gathering some fall twigs to make some pretty branch trees. Happy fall [...]

  74. April 29, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    [...] from Made By Joel. Check out the rest, Joel is [...]

  75. July 6, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    Fantastic blog and I love this idea. We had a go using a peg board and although ours turned into a fairy garden ( it was certainly easy and great fun.

  76. April 7, 2014 at 3:29 am

    [...] pourrais citer encore la ville de papier (et ses nombreuses extensions), la forêt de branches, les fleurs à construire, etc mais autant vous laisser découvrir son site et ses nombreuses [...]

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