AWESOME AUTUMN TREASURE
1. Nature Collage (Identifying Leaves)
- Take the children out for a walk to identify trees and collect leaves.
- Create a nature collage at home – as big as you can!
- Print out tree and leaf outlines here to take on your walk.
- Use tree outlines as a guide to create a tree – perhaps out of brown paper or card – on which to stick your leaves.
- If you take some paper and brown crayons with you on your walk you could take bark rubbings as well, and use these to collage the trunks of the trees.
2. Pencil Buddies
- Embroidery floss
- Craft wire
- Wooden bead
- Foam pencil grip
- Permanent markers
- Loosely wrap embroidery floss around your palm about a dozen times to create a coil of hair. Twist a 7 ½-inch length of plastic-coated 22-gauge craft wire around the center of the hank.
- Thread a 6-to-8-mm round wooden bead head onto the wire ends flush to the hair. For a body, use a foam pencil grip. Poke armholes in the foam with a pushpin or the end of a paper clip.
- Thread the wire ends down into the pencil grip and out through the armholes.
- String two 4-mm cylindrical wooden beads (about ½ inch long each) onto each arm wire and shape the wire tips into loops for hands.
- Trim and style the hair as you like. Then draw on a face with fine-point permanent markers, and your completely character is ready to top a pencil.
3. Acorn Pumpkins
- Orange acrylic paint
- Brown acrylic paint
- Black permanent marker
- Remove the caps from a handful of acorns.
- Coat each one with orange acrylic paint, adding a bit of brown to the acorn’s point for a stem.
- Let the paints dry, then add a jack-o’-lantern face with a black permanent marker.
*As many people have found out, some acorns are infested with weevils. The weevils feed on the nutmeat while they develop over the summer, and when the acorns hit the ground in the fall, these insects know it’s time to start chewing their way out and into the ground – or your home. Here is a solution: before you start the project, bake the acorns in a slow oven to kill the weevils. Just be careful not to burn the acorns!
4. Leaf Rubbing (Thanksgiving Cards)
- Autumn leaves
- Colored pencils or crayons
- Poster paint and brushes
- To make leaf rubbing cards, start by folding a sheet of paper in half widthwise and place a leaf, vein side up, inside the folded sheet. You will now have a card with a leaf hidden inside.
- Use colored pencils or crayons to gently rub over the leaf so that the shape becomes visible on the cover of the card (switch colors midway to create a variegated leaf). Remove the leaf, then repeat with other leaves and colors.
- To make painted leaf prints, first cover the work area with newspaper. Place a leaf, vein side up, on the newspaper and dab paint onto the leaf. (To create a multicolored effect, dab other colors onto the same leaf.) Carefully picking up the leaf, place it paint side down on the front of the card and press down on it to make a print (try a few test prints to figure out the right amount of paint.) Repeat with other leaves.
- Finally, add a holiday message on the cover of the card.
*For both crafts, pick leaves while they’re still on the tree. The dried-out variety will crumble if the artist gets too enthusiastic.
Use this craft technique to make colorful place cards for the Thanksgiving table.
5. Nature Prints
- Fresh flowers and leaves
- Unbleached muslin cloth
- Paper bags
- Cover a smooth, hard surface with paper bags and spread out the fabric. Arrange a leaf and flower design on one half of the fabric, then fold the other half over the design.
- Feel where the outlines of the leaves or flowers lie. Using a hammer, pound on top of the leaves or flowers, being sure to go all the way to the edges. When the color has bled through the fabric, open it up and scrape off the plant residue. You’ll have a mirror image of the leaves and flowers.
*Pansies don’t work very well, but blue lobelia print just fine; red impatiens may be too bright, but pink ones leave a delicate color. You can play with what works best for your tastes.
The fabric pieces make great pillow fronts or quilt squares. Use the same method to pound leaves and flowers onto paper to make floral stationary, gift tags, or note cards.
6. Leaf-print Autumn Placemats
- Glue or glue stick
- Construction paper
- Acrylic paint and brushes
- Con-Tact paper
- Start with a pile of leaves, some energetic kids, and a camera. After the pictures are developed, pick one that captures the spirit of the day and glue it onto a place mat-sized piece of paper.
- Decorate the border with drawing or leaf prints (lightly paint the back of a leaf with acrylic paint, then press onto the paper).
- Once dry, laminate with clear Con-Tact paper or, for about $3 each, splurge and have the place mats professionally laminated at a copy shop.