Traveling to see beautiful fall leaves is a great (often free) family trip; leaf crafts let you preserve memories and make great holiday gifts.  The United States offers spectacular tree views from the Northeast to the Pacific Northwest. While you’re out enjoying nature’s finest, collect your favorite fallen leaves. Then use them for these fall crafts ideas from Discovery Traveling Mom.

leaf crafts, fall foliage, leaf collecting

A dazzling, natural color display. Photo Credit: Eden Pontz / Discovery TravelingMom

 

 

 

Fall Craft Ideas

How can you preserve the memories of a fall foliage road trip through the Northeast, Pacific Northwest or just about anywhere in the US? Collect a few for leaf crafts to make with the kids when you get home.

A recent trip to New York’s Catskills, revealed vibrant yellow and orange hues interspersed along rivers and streams. Friends who’ve gone to Massachusetts’ Berkshires found beautiful color there.

I have some fond memories of both jumping into giant leaf piles and collecting leaves when I was a child.  I hope to pass some of those experiences along to my child. I remember using bookmarks made with my collected leaves ironed in wax paper. There are many fall craft ideas easy for even younger children to participate in. If you don’t have time to travel to see leaves this year,  visit a local park or your own backyard. Leaf crafts can make lovely holiday gifts to take to relatives if you’re traveling during the Thanksgiving or Christmas/Hanukkah holidays.

Here are four leaf crafts that we had fun making. If you’ve got a child who loves nature or someone who’d enjoy a nature-inspired gift, these leaf crafts are also good at other times of year.

leaf crafts, fall foliage, leaf collecting

Leaf crafts – making paint roller prints. Photo Credit: Eden Pontz / Discovery TravelingMom

Leaf Roller Prints

Here’s an easy leaf craft art project that’s even good for younger children. Don’t worry about it being perfect–abstract shapes that may emerge look great too!

What You’ll Need:

  • Water-based paint in colors of your choice
  • Small rubber paint roller(s)
  • Leaves (or plants/flowers)
  • Sturdy gauge paper
  • Masking Tape

What You’ll Do:

  1. Lightly tape down the paper to a clean, dry surface that you’re comfortable printing on. (If you tape all around the edges of the paper, you’ll make a small “frame”.)
  2. Place the leaves onto the paper (if you’re working with younger kids, roll a small piece of tape up and put on the back of the leaf to secure it onto the paper)
  3. Take your roller and roll it in the paint color of your choice
  4. Roll it over the paper and the leaf/leaves. If you want multiple colors, consider rolling in lines or over smaller portions of the paper. (Note if you don’t want the colors to mix, you’ll have to be sure to wash the roller in between and wait until the first ones dry to add additional colors onto the same leaf.)
  5. Carefully lift the leaves off the paper. Remove all tape carefully.
  6. Hang your artwork up to dry.
  7. Display it proudly!

What can do with all of those leaves falling in your yard? Rake them, yes. Or use them to make these four fun fall crafts with your kids. Some of these leaf crafts can be done even by little ones.

Hammered Leaf Prints

What You’ll Need:

  • Colored Leaves (or plants/flowers)—they can’t be dried out already
  • Sturdy gauge paper
  • Masking tape
  • A small hammer or rubber mallet
  • Sturdy surface to hammer on (possibly a cutting board or separate wood surface you don’t mind banging up a bit)

What You’ll Do:

  1. Place one piece of paper onto your surface
  2. Place the leaves of your choice (or flowers/plants) onto the paper, arranged in the style of your choice
  3. Place a second piece of paper on top and secure them to the surface at the top and bottom with masking tape
  4. Take your hammer or mallet and hit the top paper—aiming for the leaves/plants/flowers
  5. Lift up the top paper and remove the leaves/debris. You’ll be left with a paper that’s got “prints” of the plants on them!
  6. Use them for stationary or mount them as botanical artwork!
leaf crafts, fall foliage, leaf collecting

Leaf crafts: Imprints on clay become small dishes. Photo Credit: Eden Pontz / Discovery TravelingMom

Clay Leaf “Dishes”

Fallen leaves provide more than inspiration for these mini “dishes” (or bowls depending on how you shape them).

In this project the leaves leave their mark. These dishes, which will be the size of the leaves you’ve chosen, are great for rings, necklaces, safety pins, paper clips or other small things you may find on bureaus or desks.

What You’ll Need:

  • Leaves
  • Clay (Air Dry or Baking Clay-although Air Dry is probably preferred)
  • Clay Roller or non-wood rolling pin (acrylic is best)
  • A clean, dry surface to roll the clay on (wax paper will do if you don’t have a clay rolling mat)
  • Scissors or a clay blade (parents will need to help younger kids here)
  • Aluminum foil

What You’ll Do:

  1. Warm up the clay in your hands so it’s pliable and easily rolls.
  2. Roll out your clay to about ½ inch thickness.
  3. Place your leaf with the veiny side down (in other words, the less pretty side) onto the clay. Roll it out further until it’s closer to ¼ inch thick. You’ll want to roll right over your leaf to get the imprint as clear as possible.
  4. With your scissors or blade, cut around the outer edge of the leaf. Pull away the excess clay. (You may want to leave some extra cutting room at first and then get closer a second time.)
  5. Once you’ve cut to the edge detail you prefer, take aluminum foil and create a small tray area for it to rest on. If you want your leaf to bend for a bowl, create that shape with the aluminum foil.
  6. Pull the clay/leaf off the working surface and place it onto the foil. If it’s going to be more bowl-shaped, very gently bend it to lightly fit the foil bowl to dry in that shape. Don’t press it down hard to the foil, just let it rest on top.
  7. Carefully pull the leaf off the clay. (Try using the stem to pull it up. If not, small tweezers may be of help.)
  8. If your clay is baking clay, follow baking instructions. If you’re going to air dry the clay, just know you’ll have to turn it over and let the underside dry as well.
  9. Once your project is done, you can choose to paint it, glaze it, or leave it natural.

Leaf “Ornaments”

What You’ll Need:

  • Colored Leaves with stems (or leaves on branches-small)
  • Glue that dries clear
  • Small paintbrush (that you don’t mind getting messed up with glue)
  • Glitter (in various colors)
  • Wax or Parchment Paper
  • Ribbon

What You’ll Do:

leaf crafts, fall foliage, leaf collecting

Fall tree debris turned to holiday ornaments. Photo Credit: Eden Pontz/ Discovery TravelingMom

  1. Pour out a bit of the glue onto your wax paper or a paper plate or bowl
  2. Use the paintbrush to “paint” a thin layer of glue onto the front side of the leaf
  3. Shake a bit of glitter over the freshly “painted” leaf (shake off excess)
  4. Allow first side to dry and repeat on the back of the leaf
  5. Once dry, tie a small ribbon to the stem or top of branch and use it for a garland or ornament

Easy!

Just recently, I came upon a piece of stationary that my mother made when I was just a child. She’d taken a simple flower and leaf and glued them to a piece of paper. It still held up today-even though the flower had dried out a bit. It was a lovely reminder after all these years.

What is your favorite fall craft?