Here are my top children’s seasonal discovery nature crafts for autumn.
Each craft is designed to be easily completed with classes of students outside and inside, as a fall craft station at special events or simply for fun with family and friends.
These make-and-take crafts allow students much needed interaction with natural elements and are best created following a related seasonal storybook and an outside nature walk.
1. Nature Bag: Decorate your bag and then go outside in search of seasonal discoveries. Include leaves, seeds, feathers and anything else that you may take without causing any disturbance on the landscape. The items collected can then be used for an identification guide or many other seasonal crafts. As an educator I often instruct students to pick-up and match a finding that I may be holding. This improves identification skills, helps to avoid unwanted items such as poison ivy leaves and ensures that they fill their bag with a variety of shapes and colors.
2. Leaf Wreath Craft: Collect various shape and color leaves to press and glue onto the sides of a paper plate. Hang on a door to create a seasonal wreath to welcome family and friends. Instruct children to press and hold leaves for a count of five.
3. Leaf Rubbings: Allow children to collect the real thing and make a rubbing by placing the leaves upside down with the veins facing upward. The paper is placed on top and a crayon rubbed sideways across the item. While this is a very simple activity remember that this may be the only nature interaction some students have all year. This activity could be extended by making holiday cards, decorating wrapping paper or even pounding the imprint of a fern onto a t-shirt.
4. Squirrel Tail with Pine-cone: Allow children to collect a pine-cone and remove the individual pieces to be pasted onto a squirrel tail. The tactile action helps to develop fine motor skills while allowing direct interaction with a natural item of interest. You can also try using a sycamore seed ball for fur.
5. Chipmunk Palace: Allow free time to use your creativity with natural materials to create art in the form of a mosaic or in this case a chipmunk palace. Use sticks, leaves, pine needles, stones and more.
6. Dream Catchers: Find a flexible branch like that of willow or dogwood and bend it to create a hoop. Take string and begin to wrap and tie it around the hoop being careful to stay away from the inside. Include beads and feathers within the design for a more unique final creation. If you do not have access to natural materials this can also be done with a paper plate and a hole puncher.
7. Bottle Bird Feeders: Use a plastic container to easily create a bird feeder that is sure to attract our flying friends. Putting out a variety of seed is an excellent way to begin to recognize these backyard birds. With over a 100 birds that likely live in your neighborhood you can begin to uncover some of their identities as they stop for a n easy snack.
8. Crushed Leaf Picture Frame: Simply crunch up dry leaves in the hands and sprinkle them onto a recycled cardboard picture frame that may or may not be lined with strips of paper scraps. Include a fall foliage family picture in the middle.
9. Stained Glass Leaves: Cut outlines of leaves to frame tissue paper pieces that are attached using self adhesive contact paper.
10. Nature Journals: Find a stick outside for your binding and tie it onto hole punched paper to create a seasonal nature journal. Pages may be themed as life in the forest, life under a log, delightful decomposers or include leaf and bark rubbings or coloring pages using natural materials as the paint. For older students they may just prefer a notebook cover so they can keep their finished project pages protected from the elements when working outside.
11. My Treasures Jar: Young children go out along a trail in search of natural items. They are placed into a clear mason jar and capped with a piece of burlap and a rubber band or string. Makes for a nice thanksgiving holiday display. Include pine cones, pine needles, sticks, stones and any other small items found.
12. Nature Loom: Go out in search of items of interest that can be added to a loom hung between two trees. This can also be done on an individual small scale using a stick in the shape of a Y.
13. Colors of Nature Egg Carton Activity: Have the participants color the inside of an egg carton and than go out in search of natural items that match the colors. Of course be careful to only pick appropriate items and not damage natural native species of concern.