A Crafty Autumn Leaf Project for Kids (and Adults)

Family Matters on 11.14.11

Photo: Ksu/ kokokoKIDS

Monday in my home means one thing--arts and crafts. My daughter and two of her homeschooled friends spend the morning with us learning about all sorts of ways to be creative and express themselves through art. Teaching (in our respective areas of expertise) to a small group of kids is called a co-op and it is one way in which homeschooled children learn. 

For a recent craft, we decided to make leaf animals. It turned out to be a simple project that let us hold onto autumn's colors for a little big longer -- while opening up lots of opportunities to teach the girls about science and nature.

 First took a walk though a local park to collect different sized and shaped leaves. Gathering a variety of leaves is essential to the success of this project and our first stop left us unsatisfied, so we drove to the other side of town to collect even more. At home, we pressed our leaves in the pages of a large book under a heavy piece of furniture.

Making the Leaf Animals

Once the leaves were pressed, we were ready to turn them into colorful animal artwork. Here's how we did it:

1. Find your inspiration. Help your kids get their creative juices flowing by looking at some other leaf animals for reference. Use the animals featured here or look for more animals by visiting KoKoKo Kids or by borrowing Look What I Did With A Leaf from your local library.  
            
leaf bird
A leaf bird. Photo: Alex Martinez                                                
leaf reindeerA leaf moose. Photo: Ksu 

2. Plan your layout. Lay all the pressed leaves on a flat surface and move them around until you have the desired look. The girls chose not to make leaf animals -- instead they made flowers and feathers.
leaves laid out          leaves laid out
The projects in progress. Photos: Alex Martinez

3. Attach the leaves. Help your kids use a small paint brush to spread glue on the back of the leaves, and then press them onto the paper. After the glue has dried, brush a coat of Mod Podge over the entire collage to seal the leaves.

4. Display the finished product. Frame your art to hang in the kids' rooms or in the playroom, or cut the print to fit on the front of a Thanksgiving card. You could even try making a color copy or scan to turn your child's image into a reprintable image.

Learn While You Work

Working alongside your kids is the perfect opportunity to teach them all about leaves and trees. Here are a few facts we discussed during our crafting time:

1. The difference between coniferous and deciduous trees. (In case you need a refresher course: Conifers are trees that have pinecones and that stay green year-round. Most of these trees are known as evergreens. Deciduous trees lose their leaves each year and form buds which stay dormant during the winter only to bloom in the spring.)
2. The veins in the leaves, which carry food and water. Have your child look for the dark lines on the front and back of each leaf and use a straw to teach younger children about how the nutrients move through the veins.
3. Why and how leaves change colors. In the fall, leaves of deciduous trees turn because chlorophyll stops being produced. As the green disappears, the other chemicals that the leaves produce create the vibrant autumn colors.
4. Fun facts about trees: they are the largest living things in the world, and the tallest are in California where redwoods can grow as high as 400 feet.

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