Unfortunately, I am often not struck with creative inspiration until the eleventh hour. Such was the case last Tuesday, the first day of autumn. Lulu had garnered this little tidbit of information somewhere, and she was champing at the bit for some fun art activity to celebrate the arrival of fall ere I even hinted there might be an artistic pursuit that day. I began to cast about in all my usual places for inspiration, but every project I found required either art supplies we did not have on hand or leaves that had not been subjected to two weeks of almost incessant rain. Finally, I donned my own thinking cap and came up with the idea of making our own seasonal decorations for our work-in-progress school room to complement our first handmade garland gracing the right-hand window.
- watercolor paper
- watercolors and brush
- water (not pictured)
- leaf templates (I used these, but any will do. For younger children, the simpler the better.)
- pencil or pen
- hole punch (I used 1/8″.)
- Print out and cut out your templates.
- Trace the cut out shapes on the “back side” of a piece of watercolor paper. (No, I don’t think this paper has “sides”; just trace the shapes on the side you don’t intend to paint on.) You could even free-hand simple leaves for an even easier job. Try to fit as many shapes on the paper as possible. Your paper should look something like this, minus the shadow of my wet hair:
- Turn the paper over and let your children go to town with the watercolors. I like to tape down the corners of the paper to a plastic placemat, just because this happens to be the only table we currently use for anything in our home that requires a table: eating, school work, studying, game playing, etc. When we finally get into our school room and have our art table to use, I will likely dispense with this formality.
There’s really no rhyme or reason to this, other than to fill up the page with color:
- Let the painting dry. My girls did this before rest time, which is usually about 2 p.m., and I continued with the following steps a few hours later.
- Turn the paper over and cut out the leaf shapes.
- Punch two holes near the stem (or where a stem would be) of the leaf. The holes should be about 1/2″-1″ apart, depending upon the width of the leaf.
- Put the leaves in order in whatever way pleases you and your little artists. We had different sized leaves, so we went for an alternating large, medium, small effect. (Actually, I went for–the girls were gone to music class when I did this part.)
- String your leaves on a piece of yarn wide enough to fill your window space, with enough “give” to swag. Thread the yarn through the left hole from back to front, then back through the right hole from front to back.
- Hang your garland across your window (or door, or wherever you want it), stand back, and enjoy!
We are quite pleased with how this came out. This was the perfect art activity for a five year old and a three year old, since all it requires is the ability to fill up a piece of paper with color. Of course, the cutting out could also be done by older children or by younger children if the leaf shapes are simple enough. I can think of several other uses for these beautiful leaves, as well: card embellishments, place holders for an autumn brunch or dinner, door or window decor–really, the possibilities are endless!