This simple fall leaf craft is one of the best: a way to connect in nature with toddlers, create art, and practice fundamental skills. Grab your toddler and head outside; this fall craft is one of the best you’ll try this season.
What is a fall leaf craft?
The “fall leaf craft” is arguably as crafty as you’ll find on Ye Olde Busy Toddler dot com.
Don’t worry: it’s not impressively crafty, Martha Stewart still does NOT know who I am, and truth be told, fall leaf “craft” is more of an activity than a craft (and there is definitely a difference between craft and activity).
This “craft” was simple: supplies you have at home, leaves from outside, and a really cute final product that looks a little artsy.
RELATED: Looking for more fall activities for toddlers? I have the best list of them!
Why this activity is a must-do
There were real reasons why I did this activity (oops, I mean craft) with my toddler (2.5 years old). This wasn’t “just” to do an art project and have something hanging on my fridge.
I had two reasons for this activity:
- I wanted a fun way to introduce my toddler to the fall season. This was the first fall season he’d remember. He didn’t have memories of the leaves falling last year.
- I also wanted to introduce glue sticks to him. Glue is magical for toddlers – and this was the day he’d first discover that magic.
My other reason – so technically 3rd reason – was to make it to nap time. The day was dragging. This would give us a project with a goal.
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- White construction paper
- Crayons: I buy crayons in bulk so we always have extras
- Glue stick: This is one of my preferred kind
The most important supply: the leaves!
We grabbed a plastic container and headed outside to look for leaves for our project. This gave us a chance to play outside, get some fresh air, and have a minute to pause and investigate all the leaves falling in our yard.
Here are somethings we talked about and discussed as we collected the leaves:
- Different leaf colors
- Differing various styles
- How/why leaves were falling down
- Number of leaves falling from each tree
The whole goal here, remember, was to introduce a new concept to him: the fall season. We have to remember how new this little people are. Something we get excited about or take for granted (a season change) is a completely new concept to them.
How to make a fall art craft
I am not a crafty, arty person – and this activity needed me to draw a bare tree. I took a deep breath, remembered my audience is 30 months old, and drew the best tree I could.
Thank goodness my son is a regular toddler and not a toddler art critic (wink).
My goal: Have him color the tree.
His goal: Start gluing the leaves ASAP.
I had hoped he would want color the little tree, but he just wasn’t into that. Oh well, it wasn’t my hill to die on that day. So what if he didn’t want to color a tree? Hopefully your toddler will.
Introducing a glue stick to a toddler
After we finished collecting the leaves, drawing the tree, and not coloring it, I pulled out the mother of all toddler craft supplies: a glue stick.
The key to success with a toddler and a glue stick (other than close supervision) is modeling. I modeled how to use the glue stick, we did it together for a while, and then he took the lead.
Teaching Tip: Always model. Use the formula “I do, we do, you do” as you lead, scaffold, and finally let them try on their own.
Books to pair with this fall craft activity
Books provide a great link and support to learning in early childhood. When children haven’t or can’t have an in person experience, books are the next best things.
As you help your child understand the changes to fall, consider some fall children’s books to help explain the process:
Frequently Asked Questions
This is a parent to parent, kid to kid question. I would suggest sometime in the toddler years introducing glue sticks to children. Show them best ways to hold and use the glue stick (how much, how little, etc). Wet glue is much harder to use and takes a sizable amount of grip strength which is more expected in the preschool years.
If you live in an area without fall leaves, here are a few suggestions. First, lean heavily into books to explain deciduous trees. Next, either cut out leaves from construction paper or have your child sponge paint leaves onto the tree. You could also pick up some fake leaves from a craft store (but that’s a lot of work).
Remember: stages not ages AND focus more on your child’s interest level in crafts. Some children will LOVE this activity. Others, it may not gel with. Just as we decide foods to try and have based on kid taste – do the same with crafts and activities.
Susie Allison, M. Ed
Susie Allison is the creator of Busy Toddler and has more than 2 million followers on Instagram. A former teacher and early childhood education advocate, Susie’s parenting book “Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting” is available on Amazon.
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