Autumn is a fun time of year to enjoy life on the farm. The weather cools, the bugs retreat and the leaves fall. While jumping into a big leaf pile you’ve raked is a truly enjoyable autumn activity for kids, they can also explore the leaves the trees shed this time of year through other routes. These activities geared toward young learners will help them use their senses and develop fine motor skills while learning more about leaves and that produce them.
1. Sewing Leaves
This activity is a great way for toddler fingers to practice their fine motor skills. Start by collecting an assortment of leaves in a bag. Aim for freshly fallen ones over crunchy dried ones because they are less likely to crumble. Next, find a small twig that can serve as your “needle” and tie a string to the end of it. At the other end of the string tie a knot. Using the end of the twig opposite of where the string is tied, have your child puncture a hole in the middle of the first leaf and pull the string all the way through. Continue this until you have a garland of leaves on your string. We like to use the final product to decorate our outdoor fort, but you can use it as a bit of fall decor inside, too.
2. Rainbow Leaf Scavenger Hunt
Encourage your children to identify and sort leaves according to color with this activity. On a piece of paper, create labels for red, orange, yellow, green and brown. Next to each label, secure a piece of double sided tape. As you walk around the farm gathering leaves, attach the leaf of the appropriate color next to its label. For a bonus learning opportunity, you can discuss the different shapes, talk about what trees they come from, and discuss how long they might have been on the ground, green ones having fallen sooner than brown ones. You can also attach other items you find for each color, including flowers and berries.
3. Painting Leaves
My little one loves to paint—and it becomes even more exciting (for me and her) when it’s on something other than plain white paper. Gather your brushes and washable paints, and head outside to paint the leaves. Before you start, gather leaves of various sizes. Larger, flatter ones tend to be easier to paint, but those with texture can give kids an extra challenge. Then just let your child go to work painting them various colors. After they dry, you can pair this with the leaf-sewing activity above for an extra-colorful garland. The best part is the mess stays outside!
4. Leaf Rubbings
For this activity, you need only paper and crayons in addition to leaves. Place assorted leaves under the paper and, using the side of the crayon, rub on the paper overtop of the leave. As you do this, you can talk about the different characteristics of the leaves: the shape and size, whether the edges are smooth or jagged, and the direction of the veins. Maybe turn your rubbings into greeting cards to wish loved ones a happy harvest season.
5. Leaf Suncatchers
This activity might require a little extra help from a grownup. Again, go out and gather a bag of leaves. Then roll out a piece of contact paper and have your children attach the leaves to that paper. You might have to hold down the corners so it doesn’t roll up, but the kids will have a blast touching the “sticky.” Then place another piece of contact paper, sticky side down, on top. From here, your child can practice cutting various shapes out of the contact paper around the leaves, but be sure to stand by to supervise and help as needed. Then punch a hole at the top of the shape, and insert a string. Display your creations in a sunny window and watch the sun shine through, exposing different parts of the leaves you might not have otherwise noticed.