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Fall Fun: Art Projects & Activities Using Leaves and Natural Materials

Oct 21, 2021    |   Art & MusicFall

The temperature is getting colder and leaves are changing colors, which means that Fall is finally here! This is a special, colorful time of year that is full of opportunities for learning and exploration with the children in your care. The vibrant-colored leaves of red, orange, and yellow that are abundant in the Fall can be brought into the classroom and incorporated into your curriculum. In this article, we share easy and engaging Fall foliage activities you can enjoy with the children in your care. 

Quick tip: If you don’t have many leaves in your yard, you can find packages of them at local craft stores, online at Amazon, and at the Dollar Tree. 

Playdough Leaf Prints 

If you have playdough available in your classroom and leaves available outside, you already have everything you need for this simple project!  Children will enjoy pressing the leaves against rolled-out playdough and then pulling the leaves away to reveal detailed imprints. It is a sensory art, fine motor skill, and STEM project all in one.  Other natural materials such as rocks, pinecones, or acorns, can also be used to create imprints in the playdough. 

Click here for more details about setting up this activity. 

Leaf Cutting Tray Fine Motor Activity

The different shapes and sizes of leaves make them ideal material for children practicing their scissor skills. A cutting activity can easily be set up with a variety of different leaves, scissors, and a large tray to catch all the small loose pieces. For this activity, it is best to find leaves that are not quite dried out, as they can become crumbly and more difficult to handle. When children are done with the leaves, the small pieces can be used for other art projects, such as a nature collage!

This activity allows young children to practice fine motor skills as they manipulate the different leaves and hold the scissors, both of which help to strengthen the small muscles in their fingers and hands. Educators can introduce math concepts by engaging children in conversations about the different shapes and sizes of the leaves, noting how some leaves are bigger and some are smaller.

 Click here to find more information about this activity.

Leaf People Art Project

You can begin this creative project by encouraging children to collect large colorful leaves while they play outside, along with sticks, twigs, and other natural items that can be used for leaf people faces and body parts. This activity pairs particularly well with the children’s books Leaf Man and Look What I Did with a Leaf! Reading either of these stories before starting this project will give children ideas and inspiration. Click here to find more information and ideas about setting up this activity in your classroom. 

Encourage children to let their imaginations run wild to see what kinds of fun creations and characters they come up with.  Some children might prefer to make animals or buildings or a combination of creations.

With older children, educators can build upon this art project by inviting children to come up with short stories about the characters that they’ve created. This is a great way to encourage deeper learning, along with important kindergarten readiness skills, such as language development, critical thinking, expression of feelings and emotions, listening, and turn-taking. 

Painting Leaves

This quick and easy-to-set-up activity is a fun way to add even more colors to the fall leaves, and can be done with young children of all ages, from toddlers to pre-k! Using tempera paint, invite children to paint different colors, designs, and patterns on leaves they find outside. This art project provides children with an unusual surface to paint on, rather than the typical paper that they are used to. As they paint their leaves, they will have a chance to explore the different textures that show through the paint. Click here to find more information about this activity. 

After children are done, these leaves can be hung around the classroom for a vibrant and festive display. One of the best things about this simple activity is that it can be done over and over again, as children think of new ways to paint the leaves that they find! New leaves can be added to the display all season long!

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