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Simple Autumn nature crafts for kids! These fun, hands-on activities include ideas for all ages, perfect for the multi-age homeschooling classroom.
Living in the woods among trees, we measure our days in leaves.
- The bright green, fragile leaves of Spring signal getting our garden planted.
- Fleshy, dark green leaves of Summer mean berry-stained mouths and long lake swims.
- Lighter leaves accompany cooler nights to mark the coming of Fall.
We scan the trees each year, trying to be the first to spot an Autumn leaf. Our son won last week, running across the yard with a yellow tulip leaf in hand.
“The yellow’s returned!” he declared with five-year-old excitement. Then ran to find more.
Our kids love collecting. These collections threaten to overtake our house sometimes (after all, I am out-numbered during the day: one Mama to three active kids). So we compromise- adding favorites to our Nature Shelf for viewing & sketching, then crafting with the rest.
These easy Autumn activities are perfect for all ages! I’ve used them over & over with toddlers, preschoolers, elementary-aged kids, and middle-schoolers. I’ve taught high-schoolers and know they’d enjoy them too. For multi-age setttings, there are modification tips below to help.
There’s also an easy, gluten-free caramel dip recipe (because, caramel) and our favorite nature games.
This simple leaf sewing activity helps familiarize kids with different leaf forms. Glue a leaf onto cardstock then, once dry, cover with contact paper or strips of overlapping packing tape. Trim around leaf, then hole-punch trim for threading.
TODDLERS: Collect & glue leaves on paper together, then have an adult finish. Attach a piece of yarn to each leaf form (we tie to the first hole) and wrap around for easy storing. Perfect for busy bags and make a nice homemade gift.
PRESCHOOLERS: Easily created with a little assistance. A collection of different leaves make nice color practice (the plastic preserves the color). You can offer a variety of yarns for threading, and have them match the yarn to the leaf. You can also hole-punch each leaf with a different number of holes to practice counting skills.
ELEMENTARY: Depending on their age, you can use some of the preschool ideas above. You can use the leaves as identification flash cards (just write the name on the back) and practice different sewing techniques- running stitch, blanket stitch, whipstitch, etc. They can practice tying knots and/or bows to connect additional pieces of yarn or to tie off at the end of the lacing.
MIDDLE & HIGH-SCHOOLERS: You can use the leaf identification and sewing techniques from above. They can also lace together two similar leaves instead of just one. Just make sure they’re trimmed to the same size and hole-punched together. If the top is left open, they’ll be able to stick things inside when done!
Assembling a Sunprint Nature Garland is an easy way to display a collection. Going on an Autumn trip? Collect small mementos (shells, apple leaves, stones, flowers) along the way to create one when you get home. These fold easily, making great last-minute decorations.
*Click on Post Link above for complete garland instructions
TODDLERS: Place sunprint paper on a cookie sheet in a low-lit space, then have them assemble nature treasures (under adult supervision) on the surface. Since the paper needs to stay still to be exposed & chemicals are rinsed off afterwards, our toddler only watched the rest of the process.
PRESCHOOLERS: Have them assemble their paper on a cookie sheet as well for easy transport. This age can enjoy adding alphabet letters on top of their pictures, or spelling out simple words with help. They can assist with the rest of the process, although we usually have adults rinse the paper.
ELEMENTARY: Using cookie sheets (see above), this age can enjoy creating stories with their pictures- leaves as dresses, sticks as swords, etc. Paper dolls or magnetic figures are helpful- or it’s easy to create & cut out their own. A child might use a garland to tell a story, then write the story out afterwards to accompany it.
MIDDLE & HIGH-SCHOOLERS: This age is great at compiling memories (see intro). They can add snippets of text by writing with Sharpie on page protector sheets (cut in half for single thickness) and laying cut-out text on top of paper.
During Fall, many birds fill up for migration- or stop for a snack along the way. These easy ornaments are a great way to help them! They also make quick gifts. Once, I made over a hundred for a friend’s wedding in just two hours.
*Click on Post Link above for complete ornament instructions
TODDLERS: Have them pick cookie cutters and pour birdseed into bowl (under adult supervision). They can stick cut straws in at the end with help.
PRESCHOOLERS: Measure bird seed together using a 1/2 cup, discussing how two of these equal one cup. They can pour the wet ingredients with help and press the seed firmly into mold. Placing a small piece of plastic wrap on top first helps with kids who don’t like messy hands and/or to minimize mess.
ELEMENTARY: Experiment with 1/3 or 1/4 cups, discussing how many it takes to make the full amount. This age can pour, mix, press, and poke holes with minimum help. They can also watch the ornaments in action, cataloging birds that visit.
MIDDLE & HIGH-SCHOOLERS: Easy to make by themselves. They can create ornaments with different birdseeds to see which gets eaten fastest. They can keep track of different bird species, graphing how many of each kind visit, and use migratory charts to identify birds that are passing through.
This caramel dip is one of our favorite Fall traditions! We love to eat it with freshly picked apples from our neighborhood orchard. It comes together in minutes (just warm the cream cheese), perfect for last-minute parties or guests.
Our Favorite Autumn Nature Games
WILDCRAFT! AN HERBAL ADVENTURE– One of the best cooperative games we’ve played. With different levels of play, it’ll continue to grow with us as the kids get older. There’s a great storyline, beautiful board with built-in minor setbacks, and lots of plant identification practice.
SNEAKY, SNACKY SQUIRREL– Which squirrel can fill their nest fastest? A great multi-age game. Our toddler learns colors and matching, our kindergartner follows directions and practices cooperation, and there’s enough strategy (and cute squirrel tweezers) to keep our third-grader engaged for a few games.
Your turn! What’s your favorite Autumn tradition?
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