The year 2011 has been declared the International Year Of Forests by the UN. Why not celebrate and raise children’s awareness of their natural environment with these lovely leaf inspired craft activities?
Icy Leaf Mobiles
Use some of your recycling items to make these. Take small shallow plastic containers or plastic container lids and arrange leaves of different shapes, colors and textures in the base. Fill with water and take a looped piece of string or ribbon and place one end in the water. Freeze for a couple of hours or over night. When completely frozen remove the ice from the containers and hang in trees outside where they catch the sun. Children will love watching their ice mobiles melt!
Curtain of Leaves
This activity is suitable for a small group of children and is a great excuse for getting out in the fresh air among autumnal trees. Collect fallen autumn leaves. Aim for a variety of shapes and colours. Open out a black bin liner so you have a large, flat rectangular surface area. Get the children to stick leaves all over the black plastic using white PVA glue. Overlap the leaves and make sure to cover every inch of the plastic. When it is covered paint a coat of glue over the entire surface of the leaves. When dry, carefully peel back the black plastic to reveal your lovely translucent leaf curtain. Hang it against a window to appreciate the best effect!
Leaf Print Tree
You will need paint and wax crayons for this. A tip for successful printing is to limit the amount of paint available otherwise you end up with indistinct blobs. Encourage children to pat paint onto leaf surfaces using a sponge. Use leaves with prominent veins and midriffs to make leaf prints and leaf rubbings. When children have finished making their prints and rubbings cut them out and punch holes at the top of the leaves. Now hang the leaves from an arrangement of suitably sized twigs.
Don’t forget babies and toddlers!
Park strollers under leafy canopies so that babies can look up at the sky through the leaves. Take a leaf and gently stroke a baby’s cheek or gently tickle their bare feet with it. Float leaves in shallow trays of water for them to explore. And definitely make sure that toddlers get to crunch through piles of fallen leaves in the park, kicking them up in the air.
A quick safety note!
We know that it can be an uphill struggle to get young children to ‘eat their greens’ but nevertheless some enthusiastic little sparks are the types who put everything into their mouths. Do make sure you are aware of any plants in your area which are toxic or could cause unpleasant reactions and be ready to steer children away from them. Picking a handful of nettles is only going to end in tears!