Stained Glass Leaf Craft

My dear friend and contributing writer Kim sent us this melted crayon art a few weeks ago and it and my son’s desire to melt things with a hair dryer ( how this art was made) inspired this new take on an old stain glass craft. You may remember making crayon stained glass leaves in preschool, I know I do. I have a clear memory of my preschool teacher Fran ironing our crayon shavings.  Since my son wanted to do the melting I switched an iron for a hair dryer. As you will find out there is a reason Fran used the iron… it was not easy making this “kid friendly” and not even all that “kid friendly”. Some days we hit it out of the park, some days we don’t.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a crayon sized pencil sharpener or a zest grater, crayons in various fall colors, wax paper, card stock, scissors and tape. Og and a hair dryer … possibly iron.
  2. Start by peeling the paper off the crayons. This is fantaboulous fine motor skills practice.
  3. Next grate or sharpen the crayons into little bits. Our sharpener broke half way through ( should have been a sign of things to come), so we attached it with pinking sheers, I do not suggest this method. Crayons bits were flying at a high rate of speed all over our playroom. Instead use a zest grater or if you have it one of those parmesan wheel graters would be rad for this. You need the wax to bit thin and small for it to melt.
  4. Put it all on the wax paper .
  5. Sandwich it and either hold it down or tape it to the table. Either way when the blow dryer starts you want a firm grip on it so bits don’t ( yet again if you are us) go flying everywhere.
  6. Even on high my trusty hair dryer from 1989 took a long time to melt the thick bits… I really need to try this again with a parmesan grater , why I didn’t think of that until now after we did it is beyond me.
  7. While the wax cools. Draw a leaf and cut it out of the cardstock so you are left with what looks like a stencil.
  8. Tape the melted wax to the paper ( I tape it all along the wax paper just in case some wax breaks off then it won’t fall into my carpet ) and hang up in a window.

Over all this project was fun , especially for my son who loved every step especially the ones I would call screw ups. That’s the thing when I break it all down we do crafts with kids not to make the prettiest thing but to have fun, make memories and share some time together. Even if some of that time was picking up pieces of crayon that shot ten feet across the room. I should note if you do use an iron make sure the crayon shavings are sandwiched between the wax and still use a towel under it when you pass the iron on low over it. Wax paper is usually great but sometimes the color leaks through.

Leaf Books

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.

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.

Autumn Painting for Toddlers

I couldn’t wait to post this toddler art activity. Watching my daughter explore art with fresh abandon is so inspiring. The last class I taught as a preschool teacher before staying home with my own kids was a class of fun 2-3 year olds. At  the start of the year I did many art projects like this , that allowed them to explore freely, and created fun specific shapes within a theme we were learning and playing with in class.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper ( we are using craft paper from the mail aisle) , removable tape,  a marker, scissors, paint, paper plate and paint tools that are age appropriate for your child. For us we are using bubble wrap that is secured to a pot scrubber.
  2. Secure the paper to a table and draw leaves.
  3. If you want to use bubble wrap like we did, make sure that all edges are secure and your child can’t get the wrap int their mouth. I used an elastic to secure it to the handle of the scrubber.
  4. Put paint in a dish.
  5. Add a very excited toddler!
  6. Paint with your tool, paint with your hands – however works for you!
  7. She loved feeling the paint squish. Narrate their actions for them.
  8. Let dry and cut out.
  9. Decorate a room your child is in often and make sure to refer to how they made the leaves, how they painted.

Books About Fall

 A Friend for All Seasons by Julia Hubery is a gem! The book explains the change of seasons in a fun and easy to understand way for young children. Readers follow along with Robbie Raccoon as he notices the changes that are happening around his home, a big oak tree.  My favorite part of this book was when Robbie and a few woodland friends notice that the tree’s leaves are falling and they assume he is crying, so they give him a hug. I loved that! Robbie’s mama raccoon explains the changes and before they go to sleep for a long time during winter’s dark days, they plant 5 acorns . This was a fun part of the book because I had my son predict what would happen. I liked that it gives parents an opportunity to extend this into a science lesson about seeds, and a oak tree’s life cycle. Sure enough when Spring comes there are tiny baby oaks waiting for Robbie when he awakens. I loved this book and would recomend it happily!

Every Season by Anne Love Woodhull and Shelly Rotner is a keeper. The text is simple, but the pictures really capture all the wonderful things that each season brings to make up a whole year. The photographs can be used as ice breakers about things children love about each season, are looking forward to or even don’t like. Either way this book is full of possibilities.

I Know It’s Autumn by Eileen Spinelli  is  age appropriate for young preschoolers and  toddlers. The book is a simple look at all the things that tell a small child that Autumn is here. Pumpkin muffins, apple picking, cooler weather,  hayrides and more all signal that the summer is gone and the fall has arrived. I like this book because there will be something a child will relate to and be able to identify with. I also love that the family is biracial and there is no mention of it at all. It’s nice to see and I wish more books were so non challant about representing all kinds of families.

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 !

Leaf Scrapbook

Leaf Scrapbook

Today’s post is from contributing writer Katy Bird, who reminds us just how simple it can be to explore science and  the natural world around us.  Get some fresh air, and explore with your child, even if your adventure goes no further than your own backyard.
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We were recently studying plants and so we decided to make a leaf scrapbook.  This activity was a huge hit and I think it could be adapted for children of almost any ability level.
First you take a walk–we just went around the yard, but you could go further if you need/want to.
Leaf Craft
Collect leaves–try to collect leaves from plants that you recognize.  This was pretty easy for us since my husband is a gardening nut, but you can always do a little online research if you needed.
Leaf Craft
Create a Leaf Scrapbook.  Paste a leaf on each page of your scrapbook and then label each with its name.
Leaf Scrapbook
Allow your child to do as much of the creating as they are capable. Take time to go over your scrapbook with your child–talk about color, size, and texture.
I ended up laminating Charlie’s cards because he LOVES to put things in his mouth and I was afraid he might eat one of the leaves!  This could work just as well with note cards or heavy paper.  I especially like this activity because it gets kids started on the basics of science in a way that is fun and interactive.

You could do this activity with flowers as well.

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Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.

Fall Leaf Craft !

Today’s post is by Tara of Feels Like Home, Thanks Tara for such a fun fall kids  craft !

finished turkey

For weeks, Gracie has been asking me to make a duckie project. We didn’t have any feathers to make the duckie that Allie previously posted, so I had to make something up. Being that it’s fall on the east coast, we had lots of leaves to work with. I decided that we’d crumble the leaves and use them to cover our duckie. This craft goes together really quickly at the end, but it takes a little planning ahead.

1. Go outside and gather lots of leaves. We chose a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Of course, while we were outside, we talked about the different trees. We talked about why trees drop their leaves, and how they go to sleep over the winter. It was a lovely science lesson.

2. When you get back inside, spread the leaves out on newspaper to dry. Our leaves were quite wet because we gathered them in the morning, and they took most of a day to really dry out. dry leaves

3. Gather the rest of your materials. You’ll need glue, a marker, a piece of construction paper, and a googly eye. We didn’t have a googly eye (a fact that distressed me slightly), so Grace and I raided my button bin for a suitable eye.

find a button

Finding an eye was another great lesson. We sorted the buttons into piles by shape – hearts, footballs, flowers, and circles. I didn’t initiate the sorting; I just followed Grace’s lead.

6. Once your materials are all ready, draw a duck on a piece of construction paper. I had a problem with this step. After drawing two mutant squash, I finally got something that resembled a bird. My husband thought it looked more like a turkey than a duck, but you can decide for yourself.

7. Allow your child to smear glue all over the bird, and then help her to tear or crumble the leaves to cover up the glue. While we were working, Grace squealed, This so messy Momma! in the middle of our project. And then she asked for more glue, so I’m pretty sure that messy was a good thing. rip the leaves

8. Make a beak for your bird using leaves or a scrap of construction paper. I found a cool orange leaf with pointy ends, and I cut off two of the points to use as a beak. I glued the beak on myself.

9. Find two leaf stems that you can use for bird legs. I asked Grace to put some glue on her ducky where his legs would go, and then handed her the legs to stick into the glue.

10. Ask your artist to put some glue on the bird where his eye belongs. Stick the button or googly eye into the glue. (finished turkey photo)

Grace thought that our duck needed some grass to hide in, so she glued a few leaves onto the paper around him.

11. I was going to cut the duck out and put him on a new piece of paper, but we would’ve lost the habitat Grace worked so hard on. dry turkey craft

12. After your duck is dry, hang it on the wall.

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Tara Ziegmont is a mom of 1 and a teacher to many. You can catch up with Tara on her blog Feels Like Home !