Post by Contributing Writer Amy
A beautiful fall day calls for some leaf collecting! Here’s a fun project with beautiful results that can be done with a variety of ages. You can find a similar activity on Fun at Home with Kids. Before going on a walk to collect leaves, gather up your supplies:
- Hot glue gun
- Hot glue sticks
- Thick white paper (card stock or watercolor paper)
- Pencil for each child
- Paint Brush for each child
- Watercolors (Red, orange, yellow, and brown)
- Masking Tape (optional)
Our leaf collecting “walk” turned in to me being the only one walking (and pushing the stroller), but the trunks of the little trikes turned out to be great places to put leaves as they were collected.
We were looking for leaves with cool shapes that were still flat enough to trace. They found all kinds of beautiful fall treasures. There was some concern about us taking acorns because “the squirrels might really need them.” :)
Have the kids lay out the leaves on their paper and trace them with the pencil. It seemed to be just the right amount of challenge for my 4 year olds to do independently and was great pre-writing practice for them.
Use the hot glue gun to trace over the pencil leaves and add a center line and some side veins with hot glue. After the kids pull off all the little extra hot glue strings, the pictures are ready for watercolors. While the watercolor paints are still dry, you can put a piece of masking tape over colors other than red, yellow, orange, and brown.
You can let them do it anyway they’d like, or give them the direction to paint the background a different color than they paint the leaves, leaving no white space. I just let them go to see what happened. I personally preferred it will full coverage, but was impressed by the paintbrush tapping technique used to create some splatter effect. I always try to remind myself that it’s the kids’ art, not mine. It used to work great for me to do my own art alongside them. That way, I wasn’t tempted to give them directions and suggestions while they created. These days I’m too busy keeping baby sister from drinking the cloudy paint water or sticking the paint brush up her nose to micromanage their art! Toddlers and perfectionism just don’t go together well. I think she’s cured me. :)
It was fun to see how different the paintings turned out, even though they were created under exactly the same circumstances. When we have another beautiful leaf collecting day, we can do it again on folded paper to make fall greeting cards to mail to loved ones. Happy leaf collecting!
Amy is a former reading and third grade teacher as well as a mother to three little girls with big personalities. She believes joy can always be found in playing, learning, and ice cream.