Autumn is the perfect season to take a walk with the kids as there is so much for them to enjoy such as muddy puddles, acorns, conkers and an array of colourful fallen leaves waiting to be picked up. We collected so many autumn leaves for last weeks article Teaching kids why autumn leaves change colour that I decided to put the spare ones to good use and spend the week doing autumn inspired activities with the kids.
Extracting colours from Autumn Leaves
To follow on from last weeks blog about why leaves change colour in Autumn I was keen to find a science experiment that I could do with my daughter to help her better understand that the colours of a leaf are in fact chemicals inside the leaf. I found a experiment that uses rubbing alcohol to extract these chemicals from the leaves and we decided to give it a go.
What you need:
- A selection of leaves in a range of colours, ideally you want at least 10 leaves of the same colour
- Rubbing alcohol
- Test tubes or glass jars with a lid
- A pot to boil in
- Bring water to boil and blanche the leaves, drain and sit to cool
- Sort your leaves into piles of colour, green, yellow and brown.
- Cut the leaves up into pieces and put them into jars
- Pour enough rubbing alcohol to cover the leaves into each jar and then put the lids on
- Wait and periodically check the jars to see if any changes occur
We left our jars overnight and in the morning the rubbing alcohol had changed colour in all of them. The yellow and brown were most noticeable.
Our daughter is obsessed with sewing lately so I set up this very quick and simple nature leaf threading activity. We found some very big tree leaves whilst out on our nature walk which are perfect for this activity and all I did was go around the edge with a hole punch. With some wool and a plastic needle our daughter got to practice her stitch whilst strengthening her hand-eye co-ordination.
Making Autumn decorations with salt dough
I love making keepsake crafts with the kids and this activity is perfect to make some special decorations using all the autumn treasures that we have collected recently.
What you need
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1/2 cup luke warm water
- Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix until a soft dough is formed
- Kneed the dough into a ball on a slightly floured surface for a couple of minutes and then roll it out ready for use
- Use cookie cutters, sticks, leaves, pinecones, acorns and any other textured treasures you have lying around to make a range of beautiful Autumn inspired decorations.
- Dry your decorations and decorate ready for them to be hung up or displayed.
When it comes to letting your decorations dry you have two options. You can let them air dry over a couple of days or you can bake them in the oven. If you do choose to bake your decorations in the oven remember to bake on a very low heat for a couple of hours.
(Optional) We gave our decorated leaves a coat of modpodge to hopefully preserve them that little bit longer.
Leaf painting and printing is such a quick and simple activity to set up for the children and it can keep them occupied for some time. Painting with the different coloured autumn leaves was a perfect opportunity for us to discuss different colours, shades, textures and then experiment with mixing colours.
Ways you can use leaves in art
- Wax crayon and water colour paints
- Drawing around the leaf shape
- Painting over the leaf as a stencil
- Painting the leaf and making prints
- Cut the leaves and make a collage
Autumn leaf biscuits
Ok, so this activity doesn’t exactly involve using the leaves that we collected but I couldn’t resist making some Autumn leaf biscuits for the family. I’m hit and miss with baking but I must say I’m pretty happy with how these have turned out. I’m going to include the recipe that I use as it never fails me. Once the dough was made I divided it into 3 parts and used food colouring to make red, yellow and green dough. I then rolled the dough out and used a leaf stencil to cut out my leaves.
Sugar Cookies Recipe
Set the oven to gas mark 5 or 190c.
- Cream until light and fluffy: 1/2 cup butter
- Beat in: 3/4 cup sugar
- Add: 1 egg and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Beat thoroughly. Add: 1 tablespoon cream or milk
- Sift together 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Stir into the butter mixture and blend well to make the dough stiff enough to roll out.
Chill for 1 hour or more. Roll 1/4 inch thick, cut out and bake for 8 mins.
We have had so much fun this week with all these activities and there is still so much more that can be done with the leaves. We would love for you to share with us on social media any of your favourite Autumn leaves activities.