I love living on the West Coast, but every so often I get nostalgic for my old home on the East Coast - especially on what would be a crisp Autumn morning, with the beautifully colored leaves falling lazily from the tree branches above. To honor my memories (that admittedly "fairytale-ize" the reality of leaf raking and gutter cleaning) I present 5 fallen leaf crafts!
Always remember to wipe off your leaves outside, to make sure you don’t bring any critters indoors with you....
Ahh ... Upstate NY in the Fall. Beautiful.
1. THE GREAT LEAF DETECTIVE I.D. BOOK - As a kid, I remember painstakingly identifying trees and their leaves, perhaps because my mom was a sort of nature hound, or because I was a girl scout. Today, I find most people don’t have a clue about the nature all around them. This activity not only gets you out into the great outdoors but it works your brain as well.
Go for a hike and find as many different leaves as you can. Bring them back home and lay them out. One by one, try to identify them through their characteristics. I have found kids to be natural detectives and the web is just chock full of amazing identification sites to help them in their quest for clues. This is my preferred online resource for an excellent, comprehensive break down of plants from all regions.
Start a notebook to keep track of all the different varieties you have found. You can make rubbings or prints of the leaves, press them and tape them into your book with packing tape (cover the whole leaf), draw them, or take a photo of them and tape the photos in your book. It’s great fun to see what makes each leaf different - color, shape, texture, the stem, the veins, the smell...you may be amazed to find out how observant a single leaf can make you.
Explore your leaf findings and keep track of each colorful season
2. LEAF RUBBING - I’ve found that this works best with flat leaves.
Easy Peasy Leaf Artwork- You can even frame these!
3. LEAF PRINTING - Again, this works best with flat leaves.
You will need:
- flat leaves
- acrylic or tempera paint
- shallow bowl or plate
- covered work surface (this can get messy)
- thin paper
- paper towels
Use different colors and make patterns
1. Make sure to cover and protect your work surface with a tarp, plastic table cloth, garbage bag, or similar
2. Place a small dollop of paint on a plate.
3. Using a slightly moistened sponge, dip the sponge into the paint (do not overload the sponge)
4. Sponge the paint onto the leaf, covering the entire leaf.
5. Set aside your sponge. Pick up the leaf and place it, paint side down, onto your paper.
6. Fold a paper towel into quarters, so it’s 4 layers thick and lay it on top of your leaf.
7. Gently press all around the paper towel. Pick your fingers up each time. Don’t slide the towel around or you will smear the leaf print.
8. Lift up the paper towel and peel off the leaf - you will have a print of your leaf.
The more veins and edges the leaf has, the more interesting your print. You can repeat this process over and over on the same sheet of paper to make patterns of leaves.
4. LEAF STENCILS - works best with flat leaves, but can work with all types.
Technically these are not stencils - because a stencil is a cut out shape that you fill with color to reveal the shape, whereas this project actually creates color around the shape - making the leaf appear in the negative area. However, after extensive research, I couldn’t find a word that described this negative space….so for lack of a better terminology, I’m calling these “stencils”.
Beautiful patterns made using watercolor paint
Leaf spritzer craft
5. LEAF ANIMALS, PICTURES, AND CLOTHING
Leaf animals are one of the simplest, most beautiful Fall crafts. I was really taken by this collection from sweethappylife.com.
These little critters would be great in a childrens book or babyshower card
The more leaves you can gather in different shapes and sizes, the better. You can dry the leaves out ahead of time (as suggested in activity number 1) or just use them fresh.
1. Option 1 - Use your leaf shapes to make animals, designs, and pictures by simply gluing the leaves onto the paper and onto each other. Use a sharpie marker to draw any smaller embellishments, like eyes and ears.
2. Option 2 - draw a figure and use the leaves to make fabulous outfits out of leaves. You can cut or rip the leaves if you like.
I’m hoping these activities will inspire you to take the time for an outing together. Be it in your local park, neighborhood, or woods, I hope that you will be able to find a little nature close by and share it with the ones you love. As my Grammy once said to me - “nature equals nurture”.