I guess it’s finally time to leave the ghosts and witches behind us as we enter into that little span of time between Halloween, Thanksgiving and the onslaught of all things Christmas. Although, truth be told, I didn’t get to accomplish all of the Halloween projects I had up my sleeve. So if things start to get boring about mid January and we’re tired of being snow-bound, it’s quite possible we’ll be sharing some more spooky crafts.
When I taught elementary art, this was about the time I’d start to focus my young artists back to the beauty of fall and all the amazing colors of nature. If possible, take your little one on a nature walk as a precursor to this activity. Point out all the colors you see and the different shapes of the leaves. You can talk about the change of seasons, weather, and why the leaves turn colors and fall off of the trees.
This is a simple craft that requires no special prep work and only simple materials, and the finished product is very beautiful. This is also a project that is easy to modify for any age or ability level. For example, younger children can exercise their fine motor skills by ripping and tearing the tissue paper; older children can practice scissor control by cutting their tissue into little pieces.
What you will need:
- Tissue paper in fall colors
- Contact paper
- Masking tape or other adhesive tape
- Washable marker
- Small container to hold torn tissue pieces
To begin, tear or cut your chosen colors of tissue into small pieces. If you went on a nature walk you can try to find tissue to match all the colors you saw together.
When you have enough tissue, set it aside. We used a container from the recycling bin to hold it all.
Next, cut a piece of contact paper. I used some masking tape to carefully tape the piece of contact paper to the work surface, with the paper backing side up. This will keep the contact paper in place as you work. Once it is secure, carefully peel away the paper backing. The contact paper should now be secured to your work surface, sticky side up.
Optional – Attach your contact paper to a window or glass paneled door using the same method, and let your little one work standing up. This is a good modification for children who don’t care to sit still when working on a project. You can also enjoy the immediate sun-catcher effect this way.
Now it’s time to add the tissue! I showed my son how to put the tissue on to the sticky surface, and how to press it down gently so it completely sticks to the paper. We also talked about using different colors to fill in the space. That was all the direction he needed. He enjoyed sticking the tissue down and spent a bit of time deciding where to put each color. I helped by filling in tiny spaces with small bits of tissue and tearing more when we started to run low.
Keep working until almost all of the contact paper is covered. Younger children will enjoy the simple sensory appeal of sticking and pressing the tissues while older children can work to create patterns or more purposeful color placement.
When the contact paper is completely covered, carefully remove it from the table and discard the tape you used to hold it in place. Flip it over to the plastic side and using your washable marker, draw a leaf shape. You can free-hand this or Google leaf templates – there are lots to choose from. I tried to draw a maple leaf from memory – it looked like a misshapen hat. So if you make a mistake or don’t like the leaf that you drew, use a damp paper towel to wipe off the marker.
About halfway through drawing the leaves I decided to just cut simple leaf shapes out.
Don’t they look awesome? You can reserve the scraps in a collage box to use another day.
That’s it! This is a great seasonal project that is pretty much goof-proof and always looks great. We hung our finished leaves in our front window and they look fantastic. We have also enjoyed checking to see how they look at various times during the day, depending on how much sunshine there is.
This was so much fun to do and easy enough to accomplish even after we were all a bit sleepy from daylight savings time. I hope you enjoy making your own beautiful Fall Leaf Suncatchers!