I always have a stash of used gift wrap tissue on hand. Yup, used. I remember as a child looking at all the beautiful tissue paper and wrapping paper, and wanting desperately to play with it. I've always had this thing about paper. :-) As a teacher, I try to remember what it was like to be a child, and to honor the spirit of my kiddos. I also have to be budget conscious. Reusing beautiful cast offs is one way to do both. (After birthday parties and holidays I smooth out the tissue paper and fold it up, ready for the next craft occasion. I've done it so long, my daycare parents know to set it aside, and often help with the folding and saving.)
Tearing is a great fine motor work out, and there is no wrong way to do it, so the children typically enjoy tearing red and green tissue paper into strips for their projects.
Next they glue the tissue strips onto a plain white background, I usually use printer paper. There's a trick to this: don't put the glue on the tissue paper, it will tear easily. Rub your glue stick onto the background paper, then push the tissue onto the damp glue. (Of course glue sticks are also another fine motor work out for young children, but don't tell them that!) I encourage my kiddos to put down 4 - 5 strips of one color, then to make an AB pattern by inserting the other color between them. We add a little crumpled yellow tissue in the middle of the poinsettia.
Trim around the edge of each strip of paper (I do this for my preschoolers, but first graders are pretty good at it), then have them glue the finished poinsettia onto a solid colored background. Ta-da!
This is a fun and simple center activity your students can do by themselves or with an adult, and makes a lovely art companion to one of my favorite Christmas books, The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola.