How to make a bark rubbing

Many trees have distinctive bark patterns, which you can use to identify them, even when they have no leaves. Get to know the various patterns by making bark rubbings - they're great fun and can be done at any time of year.

Bark rubbing. © Lynn Dicks

Bark rubbing is an excellent way to get children outside and creative, as well as connecting them with nature and to start introducing tree identification techniques to them.

Follow our instructions for bark rubbing below.


You Will Need

  • Sheets of plain paper, Fairly thick
  • Pair of scissors
  • Wax crayons, Selection of colours, choose thick, sturdy crayons that won't snap
  • String

Step 1

Select a tree you can reach around easily, and find a section of trunk unfettered by ivy or branches.

Attach the paper with two lengths of string, tying it firmly at the top and bottom.

Securing paper to larger trees may need two of you.

Bark rubbing. © Lynn Dicks

Step 2

Rub a crayon firmly over the entire sheet of paper. As long as the paper stays in one place, the bark’s pattern should emerge.

It won’t look exactly like the pattern on the trunk, because it will be in the opposite relief, like a photographic negative.

Bark rubbing. © Lynn Dicks

Step 3

Identify the trees you have taken rubbings of (at the time you do them), then put your collection on display.

Bark rubbing. © Lynn Dicks