Acorn Nature Collage

Exploring nature doesn’t have to be in a far off place, a neighborhood park , school yard or your own backyard will work just great. Explore , talk about what you see, hear and smell. Touch things even they aren’t going into your bag for the collage, explore and take note of how the garden, forrest or park you are in has changed since the spring or summer.  I love when I can do an activity with both kids seemlessly and this one was super easy .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need 1-2 paper grocery bags, scissors,crayons,  glue and a yard , park or forrest to explore.
  2. Start by handing each child a bag and heading outside. Can I just say that my little paint covered point and shoot camera works great for inside crafts when movements around too big or fast, but getting a good shot of either child was next to impossible.  Especially a wobbly 15 month old.
  3. Explore- let your child lead the way. Hopefully the other child( or 5) agree and go the same way, or at least in the same general vicinity.
  4. Put everything they find and want to glue to the collage in the bag . Don’t say no to little things yet, let them discover later of it won’t glue.
  5. Huge sticks are totaly ok to refuse, but let them figure it out by asking how it will fit in the bag. Offer scissors to cut a small piece off.
  6. Head back inside and prepare for part two. I did this while they played in the playroom around me, but don’t feel like you have to do this all in one go. Do this after bed time and continue with part two in the morning if that works best for your family. You will want to empty out the contents and place them on a table – or even a shallow box. Using the bag cut it open and draw an acorn.  Tape it to the table to stay steady.
  7. Now invite the children to chose from their treasures and glue them to the acorn.
  8. Hmm the pine branch is too big  to glue down… what could we do?
  9. Cut it!
  10. I helped my daughter add the glue and she happily banged the leaves she gathered down. I was so surprised to see she remembered exactly which leaves she found and used them in her collage.
  11. Gluing is my son’s favorite part of most art because he pretends it’s a bomb ( yes this stage is still driving me batty but I am trying to roll with it)- his sound effects surprised his unamused little sister…
  12. Let everything dry overnight.
  13. Cut out.  Display if possible – kids love seeing their own creations displayed with pride.

More Acorn Crafts!

If a nature walk isn’t possible for you try another one of our acorn crafts .

Click the images for the original posts

 

Thanksgiving Sensory Tub

I love sensory tubs and one of the reasons is illustrated beautifully in this post. They aren’t just a chance to scoop and pour ( although don’t discount the importance of that) they are also a chance to make believe, create a new mini landscape and practice imaginative play. Children love to explore so when you create a sensory bin allow them to add to it as well, it’s not a static item but rather a dynamic experience for them to create with.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a big pan or plastic tub, some multicolored unpopped popcorn , red quinoa, and brown rice. You will also need some fall leaf confetti, and scoops. Obviously you don’t need to follow our contents exactly but I do love the corn since it ties into other Thanksgiving crafts so well. Orange lentils, wild rice, flax seeds etc… all have a fall feeling to them too.
  2. Pour the dried grains etc.. into the tub. Have your child help with this , my son loves ” cooking up” the sensory bins.
  3. Add the fall confetti. Be careful some of ours were pretty small, fabric leaves are another larger option for younger children.
  4. Add the scoops and containers and start playing.
  5. Follow your child’s imagination, we went and got some construction vehicles.

I get asked all the time what I do with these tubs after he’s done playing. I pop them into ziplocs and keep them , and pull them out for quiet play time often.  The variety keeps him interested and as long as the bags are sealed from moisture and insects you can keep them indefinitely.

Thanksgiving Books

The Little Engine That Could Saves the Thanksgiving Day Parade by Watty Piper is unremarkable. The story is about a school band who has a flat tire and hitches a ride on the train to get to the Thanksgiving Day parade on time.  My son liked the instruments and the train but the story was pretty boring and it was obvious to me why this was one of the only Thanksgiving books left at my local library. If you have a child who is wild about trains I would maybe check it out of the library but it’s not worth purchasing in my opinion.

Thanksgiving at the Tappleton’s by Eileen Spinelli is a really cute story that offers many opportunities for parents to talk about lying, disappointment and what really matters at Thanksgiving. The Tappleton’s Thanksgiving dinner is doomed, first the turkey falls in the pond, then there are no pies left at the bakery and then continues to get worse.  No one wants to be the person to ruin the holiday dinner and keeps it a secret that the part of the meal that was their responsibility is ruined.  Of course this means they end up eating liverwurst and pickles for dinner but Grandma saves Thanksgiving by reminding them all that it doesn’t matter what they are eating but who they are eating with.

Patty’s Pumpkin Patch by Teri Sloat is a great alphabet book and story in one. Readers follow a pumpkin patch from planting the seeds until after Halloween when they gather the seeds for the next planting.  I really like how this book combines an alphabet book with both upper and lowercase letters corresponding to some animal or insect in the story . I also like the easy rhythm of the rhyming text and the engaging and detailed illustrations . All in all I think this is a great fall book!

Leaf Rubbing Tree

Fall is in full swing around here, between the pumpkins creeping up on porches in my neighborhood to the bursts of  red, yellow and orange everywhere I had to make a leaf rubbing craft. I have to be honest my son was only kinda into this craft. He liked doing the rubbing the first few times and then after that the only thing he wanted to do was be the tape guy! We often put a craft down and return to it at our leisure, or sometimes ditch it forever. Forcing kids to do art defeats the purpose no one is creative or learning when they are forced to do anything.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a paper towel roll, some white paper, scissors, tape,  crayons in fall colors with the paper removed and leaves from your garden.
  2. Start by going outside and finding some fun leaves , bringing them in and pat them dry if needed.
  3. Place the leaves vein side up under a  piece of paper – for my son I taped the leaves onto a paper so they wouldn’t shift when he was trying to do the rubbing. This is where I lost him, after one exposure to the tape and well tape was all he wanted to do.
  4. Rub your crayons over the paper and watch the magic leaf appear! You can see I still had to hold his paper steady.
  5. Cut them out as you go.
  6. Time to tape. We used tape because it would be very tricky to glue with white glue and our glue stick was MIA. A glue stick would work nicely as long as you glued it horizontally and waited until it was dry to stand it up. 
  7. Attach all the leaves and stand up!

Books About Leaves

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert was the inspiration for this craft and will leave you trying to find all sorts of things like butterflies, chickens and fish in leaf piles. The book is about a leaf man who blows away in the wind and the reader is taken past all sorts of animals like chickens and ducks, past rivers filled with fish and butterflies in the air. All are leaves pieced together to make these awesome images , some are obvious, some take concentration to see the animal among the leaves. Wonderful creative book to welcome the changing seasons.

Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber is a beautifully illustrated , informative book that all all about leaves in autumn. It’s not the most exciting book but is a good teaching resource and tool when you are teaching your child about the changing seasons.  I can’t say this is a must read, but it’s useful and worth a look at your local library and will probably make you and your children want to jump in a few giant piles of leaves!

Lucky Leaf by Kevin O’Malley is a funny book about a boy kicked outside and off his video game by a parent and his quest for a lucky leaf. He waits and waits for the last leaf from a tree to fall, even after his friends give up and go home. The story is cute and my son thought it was funny. I liked the comic book format of the illustrations and the little boy’s dog has some pretty funny facial expressions throughout.

Need more leaf projects? It was my theme of the week over at Craftivity Corner my FamilyEducation.com blog !

Fall Art Project

fall crafts for kids

Need a fun art project for your older kids? This fall tree project is perfect. It’s somewhat time consuming for the careful or perfectionist child but dries quickly enough for those who are more impatient. Welcome fall into your house and or homeschool curriculum with this .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a canvas, painters tape, a sponge paint brush and paint.
  2. Start by taping the tree form. I ripped my tape into strips for the branches.
  3. I also made falling and fallen leaves with tiny pieces.
  4. Press down hard so paint won’t seep under.
  5. Start painting. I used all different fall colors and blended them.
  6. Let dry
  7. Peel off the tape carefully.

Need a fall themed craft for a younger child? Try this Fall Leaves Craft

Books About Fall

Fall Books For Kids

Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber is a beautifully illustrated , informative book that all all about leaves in autumn. It’s not the most exciting book but is a good teaching resource and tool when you are teaching your child about the changing seasons.  I can’t say this is a must read, but it’s useful and worth a look at your local library and will probably make you and your children want to jump in a few giant piles of leaves!

When_Autumn_Falls

When Autumn Falls by Kelli Nidey is a stunning book, the illustrations which are painted paper collages, by Susan Swan are so richly colored you will want more after turning the last page. The text is clever as well. Readers will discover that fall is well named not just because of falling leaves, but also pumpkins falling from the vines, temperatures falling, seeds falling from their leaves and even football players falling! The text is the perfect length for toddlers but not too short for preschoolers too.  Cute book for this time of year.

Great Acorn Mystery

Dot & Jabber and the Great Acorn Mystery by Ellen Stoll Walsh is a perfect fit for this activity!  The little mouse detectives Dot and Jabber are trying to figure out how a tiny oak tree has sprouted so far from the big one across the meadow. I love how this book excites my son about learning, he wants to figure out this mystery right along side the two little detectives. Isn’t that what science really is? A mystery to be solved? The mice do solve the mystery and a squirrel is involved but you will have to read the book for all the clues and details. I highly recommend this book , it’s engaging, visually beautiful and teaches about the life cycle of an oak tree effortlessly.

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Apple Craft For Kids

apple craft for kids

We made this apple craft weeks ago but wanted to wait until people were settled in the school year and the leaves turned a little more before posting. Originally I planned this as a garland ( which is why there is no paper plate in the materials picture) but decided that a wreath would be nicer and my son could do more of the steps with me if it was a wreath.  So grab an apple, some paint and make this fall decoration for your house today.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need an apple, a plate, some red and green paint, knife,  craft paper , painters tape, scissors, glue and a paper plate.
  2. Before inviting your child to come paint cut a large piece of craft paper off a roll ( find them for cheap at walmart – in the office supply section) and tape it to your work surface with painters tape. 
  3. Pour some red paint into the plate.
  4. Cut your apple lengthwise.
  5. Start printing! If you have never done this with your child show them how to make a print by stamping and removing. If they just want to smear it that is fine too – you can just cut the smears into apple shapes if you want to make the wreath or just let them explore. My son did a little of both.
  6. Next dip your child’s thumb or finger into the green paint to make stems.
  7. Let dry.
  8. Cut the apples out.
  9. Cut the middle of the paper plate out.
  10. Add glue to the ring of plate. Did you notice the new PJs? It’s the next day, when the apples dried my son was not interested in finishing the craft, so we waited until the next day. Don’t force them to finish ( I am preaching to myself here too ;)   ) keep it casual and fun.
  11. Add the apples!

Apple Picking!

I have more than a few apple picking field trips under my belt and you can too with  this website that lists a wide range of pick your own farms in the US and around the globe.

www.pickyourown.org

Happy Brown House