How to Make an Easy Fall Leaf Placemat
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Nature crafts can be life-saviors for family events in the fall. How to make an easy fall leaf placement started as an idea to keep children occupied for a big fall family dinner. We wanted the children to each design their own placemat for the meal. This craft would be perfect for Thanksgiving or any autumn party with family and friends. 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.
I invited 8 kids, from 8 months to 9 years, in our home on a cold autumn day and had everybody crafting while we basted the turkey. It worked wonders and I love that the idea came from the book Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, a book that features tons of fun ideas about kids activities and games. Suz is a good friend and her book has been a success for nature-loving slow-living families.
Here are the materials you will need and instructions for this craft.
- Laminating material (either iron-on flexible vinyl or a roll/pouches of laminating plastic–about 3/4 yard vinyl per placemat)
- Construction or thick paper, or medium-weight white cotton fabric (about 3/4 yard per placemat)
- Fall leaves
- Phone directory or other heavy book
- Art supplies to decorate (pencil, scissors, glue, rubber stamps and ink, crayons)
- Leaf gathering. The week before the activity, take the kids on a hike in your neighborhood and gather some leaves. For cool patterns on the placemats, look for smaller leaves and a good variety of shapes and sizes.
- Leaf drying. 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. Let dry during a week until they are dry and flat.
- Select the size and shape of the placemat. I used construction paper so I didn’t have to measure anything but if you use cotton fabric, 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.
- Placing the leaves. Let the kids think about a design they would like. Lois Ehlert’s book Leaf Man is a great source of inspiration for leaf designs. Have the kids outline the design lightly in pencil and glue the leaves onto the piece of paper, decorating further with rubber stamps, crayons and ink.
- Laminate. Thanks to laminating rolls or sheets, laminating any document or art work is completely straight-forward. If needed, cut the laminating sheet to the size needed, peel off the non-sticky backing, 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, place the leaves on the fabric, heat the iron, peel the backing off the laminating pouch, place it sticky-side down on the leaves and iron until flat.