The Little School and the Big Bottletree

On a tip from a reader, we visited The Little School, a preschool program located in the Waterstone development in Hillsborough. The school recently installed a bottletree built by Sean Kehoe (“Mr. Sean”), a former teacher and current facilities manager there.

little school bottletree 1

On our visit, we immediately fell in love with how The Little School incorporates art, nature and beauty into every corner of the facility.

The bottletree is just one of many adorable and inspiring bits and pieces of artwork, many created by Mr. Sean. We haven’t written a lot about the importance of art in education, but of course we love to see art everywhere, and there’s no place more important than in children’s lives. These kids are super lucky to be surrounded by so much whimsical and engaging artwork (scroll down for more photos).


little school bottletree 2

The bottletree at The Little School was actually suggested by one of the children there. School Director Jessica Larson had, like us, grown interested in bottletrees after reading John Claude Bemis‘s book, “The Nine Pound Hammer.” (That book was actually the original inspiration for our blog, way back when!) When a young student asked for a bottletree at The Little School, Jessica jumped at the opportunity and turned to Sean to develop a design.

Mr. Sean’s design for a bottletree had to be not only beautiful but very sturdy, since it would be located on school property. His idea is quite inventive, and DIY-able without specialized tools — but you’ll need a lot of elbow grease!

He used 13 long rods of rebar, and bound them together in the middle using steel wire. Then he bent and twisted the branches in all directions. At the bottom, he bent the rods outward in a wide circle, so that the tree could actually stand by itself just on its own base. He buried the spread-out rods in the ground, and placed large boulders on top of them. This makes the tree sturdy enough that the kids can pull and wiggle the branches without disturbing the installation at all.

Sean also wrapped the branch end of each rebar rod with plastic tubing, inside each blue bottle. This keeps the bottles from clanging against the rods and avoids possible breakage. It also keeps the bottles from slipping off.

little school bottletree 4

Rebar wrapped in steel wire. Look closely and you can see that the end of each branch is wrapped in plastic tubing to hold the bottle in place.

We were impressed with creativity, simplicity, and adaptability of this awesome bottletree, and we loved meeting Jessica and Sean and waxing romantic about bottletrees. 😀

little school bottletree 3





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