With the hot and dry weather conditions it seems like the leaves started turning colors early this year. And as leaves that started changing colors will fall off shortly anyway, we feel collecting them for crafts doesn’t go against “Leave no trace” philosophy that we try to instill in children.
This past week we collected some very beautiful yellow leaves on our hike. I wanted to share here few simple little art projects we did using those leaves that the children loved. The projects could be done both while on a hike or nature walk, or at home/classroom. The only thing that wouldn’t work out in the forest is glueing the sticks as they require a hot glue gun. But the sticks could be substituted with grass stems, as those tend to be straight and smooth.
Outdoors or indoors
This week we did 2 version of crafts using leaves — one was just laying out leaves into different patterns while on our forest hike. And the other one we did once we returned to our school cabin and had paper and glue available to us. I think next time I’m going to bring kids nature journals with us and a bit of glue, so we can make a few leaf pictures right into their nature journals during a break on a hike.
Making birds and animals with leaves
When we returned to out school cabin after the hike we used the leaves we collected and made the following creations. They came out very charming and were fun to make. Here on our Fall Leaves Pinterest board there are a lot of other great ideas that we plan to try next.
Note about glue
We strive to be a zero-waste school, so when it comes to crafts we try to find mediums and supplies that have least negative impact on our planet. For this reason, we steer away from glue sticks, as they dry out quickly and often end up getting wasted. And they come with a lot of single-use plastic packaging for the little amount of glue they offer. Last year we bought a large jug of Elmer’s glue, and while it still comes in a plastic jug, it lasts much longer and seems to be a more sustainable option. But as glue sticks are more handy for crafts, especially in an outdoor setting, we are going to try this DIY glue-sticks recipe.
Fresh leaves vs. dried leaves
In our projects we used both freshly picked yellow leaves, and some pressed leaves left from our last year’s projects. The freshly picked leaves are easier to use for kids, as they aren’t brittle. But they will deform over time. If you’d like to quickly turn your freshly picked leaves into pressed ones, you can do so using a microwave. In our experience sometimes microwaving leaves causes browning, which probably has to do with too high setting of the microwave. But overall we’ve successfully dried both leaves and flowers in the microwave for various projects. Here is a quick video about how to press flowers and leaves using microwave.