My inner pre-school teacher comes out with full force in the Fall, so with the cool air this past weekend here in the Northeast, I couldn’t help myself. E had just turned 1 last Fall, and so doesn’t have a clear notion as to why we’d be making leaf prints, painting with acorns and getting excited over Jack O Lanterns. Since we’re not in VA with my vast library of a former preschool teacher, we headed to the local library to find books about Fall and Halloween and went from there!
Having run a preschool classroom of at least 8, but typically 12, and washing up each and every little love after an art project, I can guarantee you that these are real-life friendly art activities that you can actually do with your little ones. No artistic ability on your part is required.
1. Make Your Own Jack O’ Lantern: You’ll need a paper plate, orange paint, black construction paper to cut out the parts of a Jack O’ Lantern (eyes, nose, mouth) and brown paper for the stem. Have a model Jack O’ Lantern for them to look at (a picture from a book, or one you made). First have them paint the plate, then using the paint like glue, have them place the parts where they think they go. This is an interesting look at their perception of what they see, and is fun to do year after year to see how they’re perceptions and abilities change.
2. Leaf Collage: Is there anything more fun in the Fall for little ones than playing with and jumping into piles of leaves? Make it a game and have them collect their “favorites” from the pile. Crunch them, fold them, inspect them all over, and if there are still leaves on the trees help them compare the two, the ones on the trees and the ones they’ve collected.
After you’ve got your bunch of leaves, help them make a glue design on a large piece of paper and let them place the leaves as they see fit. We took our leaf collage and attached the Jack O’ Lantern for a kind of Fall nighttime 3D picture.
3. Play Dough Leaf Prints: I love play dough. It is so versatile and fun, and pretty much suitable for any theme, project or lesson! Make some homemade play dough in a Fall colors, and add some Fall scents like all spice and vanilla for an extra sensory experience. Take some leaves (some will inevitably fall of the leaf collage, this is a good one to “save” those with) and press them into the Fall play dough. Talk about the shape of the leaves, the veins of the leaves that appear in the play dough, and how the really crunchy ones react when you press them into the dough.
4. A Seasonal Tree: This is fun for Spring, Winter and Fall! Here’s the one we made in the Spring. Go ahead and duplicate the project, but instead of making leaf prints with a crayon, paint the leaves with orange, red and yellow and use them like stamps. Talk about what will happen to the trees in the Winter, and the new leaves that we’ll see in the Spring. If you made the Spring one (and still have it, what can I say I’m an art project hoarder!) inspect the two trees and talk about their differences.
5. Acorn and Pine Cone Painting: This is a fun way to explore how objects roll with gravity. Take a piece of paper, and either leave it as is, or cut it into a shape (like an acorn or a pinecone) and place it at the bottom of a large but moveable container (kids will be picking it up and moving it side to side). Add some paint, along with some acorns and pinecones, and have them experiment with what happens when they tilt the container all around. Do the acorns and pinecones move? How far? What happens to the paint? Do they make different patterns in the paint? Add in seeds and pine needles if you want to make it into a collage of sorts!