Guest Post by Lilly Vicens from tuliptreehomeschool.com where she blogs about nature-inspired stories, adventures, and homeschooling support for families. Lilly is a published science writer, nature-lover, and homeschooling mom of one funny, creative, imaginative, story-loving kid.
That autumn crispness is in the air.
It’s easy to be drawn outdoors for meandering walks that seem to follow where the wind blows.
This season we linger on the trail a little longer, as children collect falling leaves one by one.
We pause here and there to inspect a fresh animal track in the damp earth.
We pick petals or seed pods, and pluck acorns from the path.
We come home with our pockets brimming from the gifts of the season, contemplating nature’s preparations for winter.
As you enjoy these fall days, here are a few nature crafts and activities to try with the items you find along the way:
1) Make a Nature Mask
Grab a basket and head outside to collect items for a beautiful mask. Leaves, seeds, feathers blown on the wind, ferns, flowers, grasses, moss, acorn caps, and even mud can be attached to a simple paper mask.
If you haven’t tried adhesive dots or glue dots (I like the “Zots” brand), now is the time for a trip to the craft store.
For a simple, beautiful mask template,
check out this free, printable owl mask, by Wild Mountain Child, complete with information about the Australian boobook owl.
Or try another spin on the nature mask by transforming large leaves (sycamore and tulip poplar work well) into cute animal faces — like these “autumn peepers,” made by Our Wildness.
2) Fairy Wings
Fall is the time the samaras fly (or what we call “helicopters” in my home).
Gather the largest, loveliest maple seeds you can find, and toss them in the air!
Or, when the littles are tired of releasing them to the wind, consider collecting a few in a jar to decorate with colorful paint.
Keep these magical “fairy wings” as a party decoration, use as a prop for story time, craft fairies from wooden peg people, add to nature collages, etc.
My favorite activity to try this year are these cute stick dragonflies from Buggy and Buddy.
3) Pumpkin Seed Shakers
Seeds are a staple of the season. Children love to collect seeds, large and small, on nature walks.
Get creative by saving them for fun art projects and music makers.
If you don’t plan on roasting your pumpkin seeds this year, wash off the pulp, air-dry them overnight, and save them for these pumpkin tambourines from Simply Today Life.
There tons of variations on this activity, so encourage children to be creative and brainstorm new ideas to make music!
Try offering a variety of materials to fill with seeds. Water bottles, plastic eggs, cups, and jars all make fun shakers.
Experiment with seeds of varying sizes to create unique sounds.
If you can get your hands on a small dried gourds, they make excellent natural rattles to paint and decorate.
You can use these shakers in your Musik at Home classes for some extra fall fun!
4) Fall Garland
As the seasons change in my homeschool, my daughter loves to decorate. One of my favorite decorations over the years is a fall garland we strung with leaves dipped in beeswax.
Dried orange slices and apple rings, dusted with cinnamon, add a bit more color to the mix.
Use craft twine and an embroidery needle to string the leaves, fruit, and a few small pinecones.
It has held up well over the past two years and looks festive hanging in a bright, sunny window all season long.
This tutorial by Wooly Moss Roots explains how to preserve and string your own lovely fall garland.
5) Fall Luminary
Mason jars take over my pantry each fall. If you’re like me, and love to can or buy delicious, seasonal jams and honey, recycle those jars!
With some Modge Podge and colorful leaves, you can make something worthy of displaying year after year.
I love these Turkey Leaf Lanterns at Rhythms of Play.
They are adorable and fun to make!
For an easier craft, just press your favorite leaves between contact paper and make fall suncatchers. While cute, no turkey is required! My daughter only glued a few of her favorite leaves from our weekly nature walks.
While this season often compels us to make all the things, my family’s favorite memories begin under a big maple tree, simply enjoying the piles of fall leaves — no glue or assembly required.
And if your child’s nature collections simply end up resting in a beautiful basket, you won’t regret the time spent outdoors, collecting the bounties of fall.