red maple leaf

Autumn Leaves Craft Project

This activity takes a look at autumn leaves as objects of aesthetic beauty and scientific interest.

For this activity, each of your students uses colorful autumn leaves they have collected to create a decorative arrangement on a sheet of waxed paper. You then cover each arrangement with another sheet of waxed paper and seal the 2 sheets together with a hot iron. The sealed arrangements can be used in placemats, mobiles, or decorations.

Materials

  • A household iron
  • A one-hole paper punch
  • An assortment of colorful autumn leaves
  • Blunt-tipped scissors
  • Waxed paper

Procedure

Safety note: Keep your students away from the hot iron and do not allow them to touch their arrangements until they are cool.

  1. Make sure each student has 2 equal lengths of waxed paper about 18″ long and an assortment of colorful autumn leaves.
  2. Have your students creatively arrange the leaves (without overlapping them) on one of the sheets of waxed paper.
  3. Place some spare leaves between 2 sheets of waxed paper. Set the iron to its lowest temperature setting and briefly place it on the top sheet of waxed paper. If the 2 sheets of waxed paper do not seal together, gradually increase the iron’s temperature setting until the sheets seal together without scorching.
  4. Place a sheet of waxed paper over each student’s arrangement and seal it with the iron. Keep your students away from the hot iron and do not allow them to handle their arrangements until they are cool. When the arrangements are cool, students can trim them with scissors if needed.
  5. To make a mobile or individual leaf collection, have your students cut the waxed paper into pieces big enough to allow for a 1″ margin of paper around the leaves.
  6. Seal each leaf as described in step 4.
  7. Have your students trim the cooled leaves leaving at least a 1″ margin of waxed paper around each leaf. For mobiles, use a one-hole paper punch to make an attachment point in the margin of waxed paper.

Additional Reading: Exploring Plant Pigments

Extension Activity

Assign groups to study different types of trees, and then create a classroom forest with your groups of oaks, maples, aspens, or evergreens. Have each group talk about the bark, leaves, folklore, and other characteristics of their tree. If your campus has trees on it, allow the groups to continue their observations by creating a calendar of events for their trees, e.g., when the leaves start to fall and when all have fallen, when the buds for flowers or leaves appear in the spring, when it produces fruit, and what animals inhabit it.

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