It has been a minute or two since I had little ones to entertain on a windy, blustery autumn day . . . but I do have memories of some of the fun that we used to have together. When my big kids were little, we would go out for a walk along the sidewalks or the country road and search for the biggest, most colorful leaves we could find. Then, we would start looking for the medium size and small leaves to add to our collection. We always tried to find ones that had just recently drifted down from the trees above, so that they would still be soft and supple. It is hard to do crafts with leaves once they are dry and brittle. Autumn crafts are so much fun, and they are really easy and inexpensive, too!
Then, when our girls were little, we did many of the same kinds of fun autumn activities, but we also did other kinds of craft projects that I discovered along the way. One of our favorites for many years was pressing the beautiful, colorful autumn leaves between the pages of a heavy book for a few days. We would lay them carefully between two sheets of paper towel, make sure they were flat and not folded or crumpled, and then tuck them between the pages. Sometimes we would put lots of different leaves into each book, and then we would put something heavy on top of the book to make sure they were really, really FLAT!
While we were waiting for the leaves in the book to be flat and ready for our craft project, there was, of course, time to rake up a pile of leaves outside the kitchen door and then hang from a branch and drop down right into that big ol’ pile of leaves. No worries about the dirt, bugs, grass, and other junk that would inevitably find its way inside of shoes and shirts, or in hair and hats. There’s always a shower awaiting for little ones who play outside and get dirty!
Another fun project that we used to do was collect pine cones from under the huge old pine trees in the back yard. There are so many things to do with pinecones! You can paint them, decorate with glitter, pile them in a basket, make tiny bird feeders with them, or even create Pinecone Creatures . . . . here is one idea for turning your pinecones into a fireplace mantle friendly display:
Once the pretty leaves we had collected were flat and dried out a bit, we would find our favorite ones and made a design on the kitchen counter in the space of a regular placemat. This is where it got a rather tricky, because little fingers can’t always direct contact paper exactly where it should land with the first go ’round, so mom (that’s me!) would cut a sheet of clear contact paper and lay it carefully on top of the leaf arrangement, leaving enough all around the edges to cover all of the leaves. Here’s another way to create a fun autumn craft project with autumn leaves and clear contact paper:
Then, we would peel that layer of leaves and contact paper off the counter and flip it over. Add a second layer of clear contact paper and press down firmly. Now you can just trim around the edges and you have a handmade placemat that the kids love to use for meal times, especially at Thanksgiving dinner. But that was just one of our favorite activities on a windy autumn day.
Today the wind is swirling a pile of leaves outside my office window, and I am remembering those days of making fun crafts with my littles (who aren’t at all little any more!). And when I looked out the kitchen door this morning, I noticed that even more leaves have come flying by the window today, along with several of the pretty little (faux) pumpkins that I had piled up out there. The wind even blew down the pumpkin welcome sign by the kitchen door, so I guess I’ll wait until it isn’t quite so windy before I put it back up.
Here’s a great idea I discovered from The Frugal Homemaker for using those pretty autumn leaves to make a wreath. I’m thinking you could keep this super simple and glue leaves onto a wreath shape cut from card stock or construction paper, or you could use a Styrofoam wreath form and attach the leaves with pins. Of course, if you want to get really “fancy” you could add ribbons, buttons, lace, acorns, pine cones or other pretty embellishments, depending on the ages of your littles, but such a simple and easy autumn craft is perfect for encouraging creativity in your kiddos.
Another creative object that I love to use in all of my projects is a jar full of buttons. After years and years of sewing and crafting, I have several button jars filled with mismatched buttons, vintage buttons and leftover new buttons (you know, when you buy a card of buttons for a sewing project and there are six buttons of the exact perfect buttons that you’ve been looking all over for, but you only need four of them), as well as buttons that have been rescued from thrifted garments and old discarded garments. So why not use them for an autumn craft day project! Here’s an idea that might work for you . . .
Today I am hoping to do some crafting, even though all of my kiddos are pretty much all grown-up now – my girls still like to do this kind of project once in a while, so maybe we can gather up a few of those leaves that are swirling and twirling around outside the kitchen door this morning, pull out the button jars, and see what we can come up with. In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying these beautiful autumn days. It won’t be long, they say, before the snow begins to drift down and then we can begin working on a few fun crafts and DIY projects for snow days. Until then, happy crafting!