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Crafting with kids:
Autumnal things made of leaves, pumpkin & Co.

Whether it’s foggy or golden, kids are drawn to the outdoors in the fall. For hours we wander through the garden, the woods and along the lake. Now nature releases its treasures and we discover many things that autumn has to offer in the harvest season: Apples and pumpkins in the garden, chestnuts, acorns, beechnuts and cones in the forest. And, of course, lots of bright beautiful leaves. Lea and Malik collected chestnuts, spruce cones and fallen acorns. Ben, Amba and the others come back with hands full of beech and chestnut leaves, which we absolutely have to glue onto paper. With bags and baskets full of material we make our way back.

Colourful maple leaves in autumn

Make colourful leaf pictures

With their blaze of colour, autumn leaves immediately stimulate children’s imagination. We make crafts with yellow, red, brown and green leaves, with acorns, seeds and berries that have dried. How easy it is to dry and preserve leaves and foliage is well explained here.

All else we need is clay paper in many colors, glue sticks, scissors, finger paint and off we go. Malik paints the faces of his family and glues their hair with leaves. “This is my sister Dilara, this is dad and this is mum. I’ll put Grandma on it too, she often visits us at the weekend!”.

Lea has gone all in on printing. She paints the leaves and fruits with finger paint and then stamps a colourful forest onto the paper – the exciting structure of the leaf veins and the wizened contours of the fruits are retained. And Ben cuts and paints and glues until in the end a whole fox family populates his paper. “Foxes must be fiery red!” he declares. Lea thinks so too and paints and glues and cuts a hedgehog family. “And hedgehogs are orange and forest floor brown!” she thinks. Ben nods in agreement.

A classic: making chestnut figures

The children want to make chestnut hedgehogs, but you can also make other things out of chestnuts, such as little men, various animals or wreaths. The hedgehogs are particularly simple and we don’t need much material: craft drill, toothpicks, waterproof black crayons and of course chestnuts in various sizes.

First we drill holes in the chestnuts with the craft drill. We break the toothpicks in half and insert them into the holes with the tips facing up. If you want, glue them in the holes. Finally we paint eyes on the hedgehogs – ready are really cute little fellows.

Ben, Malik, Lea and the others are very enthusiastic and help the chestnut figures to a place of honour on the windowsills. If you feel like doing your own crafts with chestnuts at home, here are some very simple instructions.

Child tinkering with colored clay paper

Making lanterns for dark evenings

Not all of our children have a Christian background and celebrate Saint Martin. But you can also simply place beautiful lanterns at the window or on the dining table in autumn. They accompany us into Advent and the Christmas season with their warm, friendly light and the cosy atmosphere they spread.

For crafting, we collected round cardboard cheese boxes and cut them to use as our base. From colorful tracing paper we cut out leaves, circles and stars. Thickly coated with glue stick, they are placed on white transparent paper. An electric tea light goes on the bottom of the cheese box, then we wrap the tracing paper around it. At the top we finish with a cheese box without a lid. We attach a wire to it – and the lantern is ready! “I’ll make another one for Mom,” Anna says. “She’s usually sad when she doesn’t have one at the St. Martin’s parade!”.

Recreating a lantern at home is easy – here’s a great step-by-step tutorial.

Carving pumpkins for Halloween

What would Halloween be without spooky, funny or grim pumpkin heads? In late October and early November, they are in many front yards, windows, and front doors in the city and country. The kids love the faces and draw scary beautiful templates on paper.

We transfer the templates to the pumpkins and the adults carve eyes and mouths. When scooping them out, everyone can help again, because the inside is so soft that it can be easily scraped out with a spoon. I wonder if we’ll make a cream of squash soup out of it. How to carve great pumpkin faces easily at home is shown in this comprehensive yet simple tutorial.

Asian girl playing on meadow

Crafting promotes creativity and fun

Crafting not only promotes children’s creativity, but also their fine motor skills and ensures a good mood and lots of fun. Everyone gets to talk, explain to each other what they are making, and support each other. In the end, the kids are really proud. At least as fulfilling as the crafting itself is decorating the final products together in our rooms.

What can we put on the window, what can we hang on the walls? Throughout the autumn, the children are delighted with the objects they have made and are already thinking about what we will get from outside next to continue in the run up to Christmas …

“Every child is an artist. The problem is just staying an artist while you’re growing up.”

(Pablo Picasso)

Photos by Patty Brito, Greg Shield, Nurpalah Deem and Sigmund via unsplash.com