Leaf play is exciting because it builds creativity, develops fine motor skills, and enhances your childâ€™s confidence to work independently. Yes! Anything, including dried leaves, has the potential to teach your kids valuable skills and improve development. But, when you go for your next walk, collect some dried leaves, what other activities can you do with dried leaves?
Dried leaves can create leaf animals, bracelets, wreaths, headbands, wall art, crowns, coasters, and leaf prints. The ideas are endless! In fact, you should let your kids explore their imagination for DIY leaf activities. For example, let them design a leaf car from scratch if they like cars. It’s fun!
Whatâ€™s more, putting the kids in charge of the ideas develops their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. And as youâ€™ll notice in this article, the Hanen Centre explains how critical thinking aids in language and literacy success for children. Therefore, what you see as a simple leaf activity has a bigger role in your childâ€™s comprehensive development.
With that said, letâ€™s discover several engaging DIY leaf activities.
1. Design Dried Leaf Animals
When my kids were younger, they definitely learned about various animals through leaf play. Usually, I’d initiate fun games during our weekly hikes to make the trek more fun, and that worked for them. One of the games involved leaves, where each of us designed leaf animals, and the rest would guess the animal.
The girls loved the game, and it finally made its way into our home, which means you can try it without going for a hike. You’ll need lots of dry leaves (in different colors), craft glue, plain paper, and tiny branches. The design ideas include dogs, cats, elephants, owls, and lions.
Leaf hunts are great for collecting dry leaves, but if you’re into hiking, you can pick up a few leaves on your trail. In fact, I have an entire article on activities you can engage in t make your family hikes exciting. So take some time and read it here.
2. Create Wall Art
Wall art adds vibrance to a room and showcases your personality. You also get to experiment with different styles while tapping into your creativity. So, why not encourage your kids to explore their imagination and personality by designing wall art?
The kids will stick dry leaves on a blank canvas or design paintings. Alternatively, they’ll trace the leaves and sketch realistic wall art for their room or play area. It is impressive how dry leaves offer a wide selection of ideas for wall art.
Generally, you’ll need enough dry leaves, glue, plain paper, and a frame. Next, add pencils, erasers, and crayons for kids who love drawing. Please read my article on the types of crayons to discover which type best suits your childâ€™s age group.
3. Stain a Glass Jar with Dried Leaves
This DIY activity will turn all your dull and plain glasses into colorful, artistic pieces. What’s more, your kids will enjoy a sense of accomplishment every time they drink in these glasses. Don’t worry; you don’t have to stain all your glasses. Instead, you’ll use two, three, or more glass jars, depending on the number of children.
Additional materials include a variety of dry leaves, paint brushes, food coloring, varnish spray (clear), and white glue. The process is simple;
- Spread the dry leaves on a flat surface.
- Mix the white glue with several drops of food coloring. Let the kids pick a color of their choice for the food coloring.
- Dip your paintbrush into the mixture and spread it on the exterior glass jar.
- Allow the mixture to dry.
- Spread the white glue on each leaf and stick the leaves on different parts of the jar.
- Lastly, spray the clear varnish to ensure the leaves donâ€™t fall off after drying.
There you have it! Your kids will design cute stained glass jars for the kitchen counter or dÃ©cor around the house. Alternatively, turn the stained glass jar into a lantern by placing flameless tea lights or candles inside the jar.
4. Make a Sensory Bin
Youâ€™ll need lots of leaves for this DIY activity, but itâ€™s totally worth it because it embodies the benefits of sensory play. For starters, sensory bins accommodate your child’s senses, including touch, smell, hearing, sight, and taste. My kids still play with sensory bins, which I believe is one of the most effective sensory play activities for different age groups.
For your sensory bin, youâ€™ll need to collect as many dry leaves as possible, depending on the bin size. Usually, a fun leaf hunt at the park or in your backyard will do the trick. Once you have the leaves, fill up the bin and add objects that require using your kids’ senses.
For example, add toy trucks, fruits, branches, pinecones, books, and legos. The kids will dig into the bin while blindfolded and identify each item based on its shape, texture, or taste. Therefore, avoid putting sharp and harmful objects in the bin.
5. Leaf Print Decor
Apart from sticking actual leaves on surfaces, it would help if you encouraged the kids to create unique leaf prints. So, clean out the windows in their bedroom and let them stick leaf prints on different parts of the glass. Alternatively, theyâ€™ll create framed glass dÃ©cor or various rooms in your home.
The kids will create leaf prints on top or below using parchment paper, paint, scotch tape, varnish spray, and colorful dry leaves. Hereâ€™s the process;
- Spread your parchment paper and dry leaves on a flat workspace.
- Cut several pieces of scotch tape and fold them in a circle with the sticky side out.
- Stick the tape pieces at the back of each leaf and lay them out on the parchment paper.
- Next, take the paint and brush over the leaves from the middle and then outwards. Again, tempera paint does a really good job, plus itâ€™s easy to clean and child-friendly.
- Spray the clear spray varnish across the paper to avoid peeling when the paint dries.
- Next, remove the leaves and affix the finished product to the window or desired surface. Typically, we place the parchment on a glass frame to enhance the aesthetic.
6. Design Glitter Leaves
Glitter leaves are a favorite DIY activity for my daughters. If your babies love shiny and glittery things, they’ll definitely enjoy this activity. Plus, it’s really simple. You only need colorful and clean dry leaves, glitter, and glue.
First, the kids will pick out slightly dry leaves and arrange them on a flat workspace. Second, they’ll apply glue on strategic areas of the leaf, such as the midrib, margin, or veins. Lastly, guide their little hands as they pour glitter over the glue and let it dry for a few minutes. It’s that simple!
Finally, stick the leaves on the wall or frame them so they last longer.
7. Leaf Bracelets
Yep! You can definitely design jewelry using dry leaves, and leaf bracelets are the most common. What’s more, you can design these bracelets on the go or in the house because they’re flexible to make. But, of course, your kids will need dry leaves, a string or tape, and a pin.
- If youâ€™re using tape, tie the tape around your babyâ€™s wrist with the sticky side facing outwards. Then, stick the leaves around the tape, and voila! A simple leaf bracelet.
- For string bracelets, find a thick string or fishing line. Next, use a pin to poke two holes in each leaf. And finally, insert the string or line in each hole until the bracelet is complete. Also, you can crimp, cap, or tie a knot on both ends, so the leaves don’t fall off.
Dried leaves provide endless fun activities for your kids, including picture talk. Of course, you’ll take charge of this DIY activity because it requires adult input to design scenarios that guide your child’s imagination. Lucky for you, we have an extensive article on picture talk activities that will guide your process. Please read it and improvise fun leaf scenarios. All the best!