Buried in Leaves? Turn Them Into Leaf Art!
Don't rake until you've tried these fun projects that build kids' creativity.
Right about now for many of us, the leaves on our lawns are reminders of the raking chore to come. Postpone the raking for a while longer to enjoy these leaf art activities, which provide opportunities for kids of all ages to have sensory experiences, use big motor skills, express themselves artistically and more.
Be a Leaf Hunter
All of the activities below require leaves, and collecting them is part of the fun! Pick a dry day and head out with a bag for collecting. Challenge your kids to find many different colors, sizes and textures of leaves. Count them as you go! While you are collecting, take time to notice other sounds, smells and sights of fall, like bare tree limbs, smoke billowing from chimneys, geese above, and cooler air. Older children may like to take along a notebook to capture what they see in a nature journal in words or pictures.
When you get home, examine your leaf haul. Sort the leaves by color, size and shape. Create patterns. Older kids can measure leaves with a ruler or graph the results of their sorting. Your kids won’t realize that they are practicing math skills!
Then, fill a box with popcorn kernels, leaves, and other fall items and let your children sink their hands in and play. They’ll love this sensory experience. Or, set up a divided container or tray with leaves, Play-Doh, pipe cleaners in fall colors, cookie cutters, and small animal figurines and see what your children create. If this is too much effort, simply put a bunch of leaves in a big pot and encourage your kids to stir and shake the leaves, pick them up with kitchen tongs, and mash them with a potato masher.
Be a Leaf Scientist
Head online or to the library for a leaf identification reference like this one, and create a Leaf Memory game. Paste a leaf on a card, and make a corresponding card with the name of its tree. Use all of your pairs together to play a twist on the classic Memory game.
Leaf rubbings are beautiful, and they are also exciting opportunities to see a leaf’s shape, texture, and inner workings. Simple paper and crayons work well: place a leaf, smooth side down, below paper and secure on a clip board. Then color over it with a peeled crayon on its side. Other materials, such as oil pastels, colored pencils, wax paper, and parchment paper produce different results. Visit this site for more leaf rubbing ideas, and information about the parts of the leaf you’ll see on your rubbings.
Let Your Inner Artist Shine
Many of us remember making leaf sun catchers, and it’s a great activity to re-live with your kids. It’s simple: Arrange pretty leaves on top of wax paper. Sprinkle crayon shavings (use the crayons you peeled for rubbings and a vegetable peeler) over the leaves, and then top with another piece of wax paper. Cover with a kitchen towel and iron until it all melts together. Add glitter with the crayon shavings if you dare!
Create a beautiful fall centerpiece with Mod Podge and leaves: stick the leaves on a glass jar and insert a candle or fairy lights for a beautiful lantern, or partially cover a pumpkin with leaves.
You already know your kids love glue, so take a photo of your child blowing and then glue it on paper with leaves. Allow the kids to smash and crumple leaves into small pieces and then use them for collage pictures.
Get Back Outside
When it’s time to rake, encourage your kids to join you. Jumping in big leaf piles is great exercise, and lets kids feel powerful. Older kids can create a leaf labyrinth, big letters using leaves and other designs.
Photographs by Rachel Kramer.