Nature Craft: How To Make An Easy Fall Leaf Placemat
This project started as an idea to keep children occupied for a big fall family dinner and so the children could each design their own placemat for the party. When I say “children,” I mean my 2 girls plus 7 nieces and nephews, the whole gang ranging from 8 months to 9 years. Technically, 8 active children in our small house on a cold autumn day – zen. As you see, I need to find something fun for the kiddos while we baste the turkey! The activity also came from the book Fed Up with Frenzy by Suz Lipman, a book that features tons of fun ideas about kids activities and games. As a bonus, a fall leaf placemat is a great idea to get kids out of the house on a leaf quest the week before your craft, so the leaves are all flat and dry by the time you sit everybody down around a table. Now here’s the craft, slightly adapted from Fed Up with Frenzy.
- Laminating material (the book recommends iron-on flexible vinyl but I was short on time and found a roll of laminating plastic at the office supply store next to my house, about 3/4 yard vinyl per placemat)
- A sheet of construction paper (the book recommends medium-weight white cotton fabric, about 3/4 yard cotton per placemat)
- Your favorite fall leaves
- Phone directory or other heavy book
- Art supplies to decorate
Ready? You can start.
- First, take the kids on a hike in your neighborhood and gather some leaves. If you’re looking at making patterns on the placemats, prefer smaller leaves or a good variety of shapes and sizes.
- At home, place them in a heavy book and lay them as flat as possible. Close the book and weigh it down with more heavy books. Now wait.
- A few days later, your leaves should be dry and flat.
- Now the size and shape of the placemat. I used construction paper so I didn’t have to measure anything but if you use cotton, cut out fabric rectangles 2″ larger than the final size you’re aiming at. Suz recommends 13″ x 20″ pieces to end up with 11″ x 18″ placemats. In that case, make guide marks 2″ around your piece of fabric to know your boundaries.
- Time to place the leaves! I messed around with a few leaves, scratched my head, and thought about a design. Once I knew what I wanted, I glued the leaves onto the piece of paper and decorated the paper with rubber stamps and ink.
- Then I went on to laminate the leafy art work. Laminating is not my favorite part but it’s pretty straight-forward: cut the size of laminating plastic you need, peel off the checkered backing off the plastic, apply it on the construction paper and rub it flat to smooth out any air bubbles and creases. For increased solidity, I laminated the backside too. With fabric, you will need to place the leaves on the fabric, heat the iron, peel the backing off the fabric, place it sticky-side down on the leaves and iron away.
Time to eat!