Make: A Climbing Paper Tree Frog

Explore a variety of fun art-making styles with this climbing paper tree frog craft for kids that sticks to smooth surfaces using the magic of suction cups to mimic the real thing!

The first year I lived in Minnesota, we had a late fall surprise in the form of an unexpected stowaway. A tiny gray tree frog had scaled the side of our fireplace and was hanging out underneath the mantle – probably a hitchhiker in one of the plants we’d brought inside for winter. Since then, I’ve spotted buckets of little croakers exploring every last inch of our property outside – hanging on the side of the house, hiding under hosta leaves, hopping up fence rails, and climbing the tree trunks.

Our paper tree frog kids craft suction cupped to a window

For kids’ animal projects in particular, I have always enjoyed adding an extra element that takes it just beyond a standalone art project or craft, turning it into a toy that mimics the behavior of the real thing (I mean, have you seen our hopping spring peepers yet…??).

Our paper tree frog kids craft suction cupped to the refrigerator

These clingy climbers are no exception, and the process of making them is just as entertaining as finding places to stick them! They also provide an INSTANT way to display your art. No frames are necessary for these sticky-footed window clingers – just pop them on a smooth surface and prepare for accolades.

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Our own set of tree frogs has been busy hanging out ALLLLL over – stuck to the fridge, clinging on to the bathroom mirror, climbing up the side of the screened-in porch, and decorating many (MANY) a window.

Want to go all-in on the animal theme? Create a set of hopping spring peeper poppers (oh the excitement!) make a bubble-wrap printed chameleon puppet, or make a summery clip-on cicada you can hang from the nearest branch (or anywhere really).

To make your own paper tree frog you’ll need:

Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains Woodpeckers Crafts and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*

BASIC SUPPLIES:

  • Heavy cardstock or watercolor paper
  • Scissors
  • Acrylic or tempera paint, watercolors, oil pastels, crayons, or markers
  • 20mm (3/4-inch) suction cups like these
  • A hole punch
  • Tissue or construction paper (or similar)

OPTIONAL SUPPLIES:

DIY Climbing Paper Tree Frog Craft Instructions:

  1. Download and print our frog templates

    You can draw your own frog outlines or make it super easy by downloading and printing our frog template set (with 2 different frog design options). I printed these on brightly colored heavy cardstocks, but you can print on plain white if you prefer (watercolor paper works well too).
    Our paper tree frog printable templates in different colors.
    To print at full-size, be sure to choose borderless printing in your print settings.

  2. Paint, color, or decorate

    Paint, color with crayons or markers, and decorate any way you prefer (I have lots of ideas listed for you below!). Let dry completely before cutting out.
    Our paper tree frog printable templates painted in a variety of styles
    Note: We weren’t applying very thick layers of paint, so could still see the lines of our templates. If you’re going to be using a supply you think will cover up the frog outline, simply flip the paper and for some free-painting on the blank side.

  3. Cut out your tree frogs

    So I’ll just go ahead and say it – the cutting of these is fairly fussy. The details of the shape are what really makes these tree frogs look amazing, but if your kids find it frustrating, you can skip cutting out between each toe and just give them webbed feet instead!
    Our paper tree frog printable templates painted and cut out
    Younger kids will likely need some assistance with this step, but let me tell you…it is SO worth it! You can also use the other frog template that comes in this set and has less detailed edges to cut around.

  4. Punch holes in the feet and add the suction cups

    And here’s where we REALLY bring these tree frogs to life. Use a standard hole punch to make a hole in the center of their feet and pop in a suction cup. You can add suction cups to all the feet or just one – these aren’t heavy so one will easily be able to hold a frog on a surface.

    Our suction cups have a little lip at the top that catches and holds the paper, so no glue is necessary to keep it in place. If yours seem to be falling out of the feet, just add a small dot of craft glue or use a glue gun.

  5. Add eyes (optional)

    As one last little optional touch, you can add a pair of round, bulging eyes to your tree frog. We rolled small squares of tissue paper into little balls, used a glue stick to glue them on, and colored in frog-like pupils with a black marker.

    What other supplies can you find to recycle and use that look like tree frog eyes?

Just like our paper versions, actual tree frogs have sticky toe pads that create suction, allowing them to grip and climb many different kinds of surfaces in nature. Found on every continent except Antarctica, there are over 800 species of tree frogs, so if you’re looking for inspiration to help you decorate your own, you’ve hit the jackpot!

Our paper tree frog kids craft suction cupped to the refrigerator

We took inspiration from the tree frogs we find in our backyard, but also more exotic species, like the red-eyed tree frog and the blue poison dart frog. Tree frogs come in an amazing array of colors and patterns, so it’s also fun to let your imagination run wild and create your very own species!

Our paper tree frog kids craft suction cupped to a window

Ways to decorate your paper tree frogs:

  • Use stamps and other paper printing tools. Stamps, a sponge, bubble wrap, a fly-swatter, old foam peanuts, the edge of a piece of thick cardboard – these are ALL wonderful stamping and printing tools to experiment with.
  • Make paint-speckled frogs. Dip a toothbrush or nail brush in paint, then point it toward your paper and drag your finger across the bristles to flick paint onto the surface. This creates a cool, colorful dappled effect on your frog’s skin.
  • Try scrape painting your tree frogs. If you haven’t tried scrape-painting yet, these frogs offer the perfect opportunity! You can find all the details you’ll need to give it a go in the tutorial for our scrape-painted surfboards.
  • Make marbled paper tree frogs. Originally, my plan had been to start this project with some handmade marbled paper-making, but time was running short with the holiday weekend on the way. It’s still on the list to try again later though, because it would create the coolest frog-like effect! The Artful Parent has a fabulous guide to paper marbling techniques that offers six different ways to try it with kids (and you probably already have all the supplies you’ll need).
  • Try using watercolors, chalks, and pastels. For an even wider variety of textures, experiment with watercolors, or add details with a layer of oil pastel marks. Create well-camouflaged tree frogs by doing rubbings on tree bark with charcoal or chalk pastels.
  • Color and add details with crayons or markers. Looking for a simpler process? Use good old crayons and markers instead of paints or other art supplies that require drying time.
Our paper tree frog kids craft suction cupped to the refrigerator

*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Amazon, Etsy, or Woodpeckers Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click through to make a purchase we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!

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Amanda E.

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.

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