The skies are blue, the breeze is cool and the leaves are falling from the trees. It's the perfect weather for taking your autumn-inspired craft projects outdoors. From leaf turkeys to fun pumpkin art, we've rounded up 10 fun nature-based arts and crafts projects that you can do with your kids this fall.
Leaf and Twig Wreaths
The leaves on the trees are falling to the ground in bright oranges, yellows and reds, and who can resist gathering them up to use in a craft project? Leaf and twig wreaths are fun to make and can be displayed on your door through Thanksgiving. To make this wreath, have your kids gather up the most vibrant leaves they can find, then attach the leaves to a store bought twig wreath using a hot glue gun or make your own twig wreath using a wire coat hanger and florist wrap. It's a fun and simple way to add some crafty color to your life.
Every child knows the fun of creating DIY turkeys by tracing the outline of their hands onto paper, but making turkeys out of leaves is another fun way to pay homage to Thanksgiving's mascot. To create leaf turkeys, gather maple leaves and glue them onto construction paper, then have your kids decorate their leaf turkeys by adding "feathers" (chestnut or alder leaves work well as feathers), pebble eyes and any other natural touches they dream up.
Pinecone Bird Feeders
Migratory birds are heading south for the winter, and even our feathered friends that stick around for the cold weather are gearing up to survive the harsher months. Help your backyard birds build up their energy reserves by creating pinecone bird feeders with your kids. Have your kids collect pinecones in the yard, then tie a string around each pinecone before rolling them in a mixture of peanut butter and oats or cornmeal. You may need to use your fingers to get the mixture to spread evenly around the pinecone. When the peanut butter mix is evenly distributed, roll the entire thing in birdseed. Hang and enjoy watching the birds peck away at your creation.
Scarecrows are the perfect autumn art project because they're functional, as well as fun to look at. Help your kids create their very own scarecrows from materials such as sticks and hay, and let them dress their scarecrows in the clothing they've outgrown. When the scarecrows are complete, prop them up in the autumn garden to keep the birds and deer away.
Sure, carving pumpkins is a seasonal right of passage, but who says there's only one way to make art with pumpkins? Encourage your kids to get creative without carving by setting out their art supplies and letting them go to town decorating their pumpkin with glitter glue, pipe cleaners and paint. The best part is that their un-carved pumpkin will last well through Halloween and can be displayed inside or outside until the end of autumn.
Crafting With Corn
A late summer harvest of corn is not only delicious to eat but fun to craft with, too. One way to help your kids create corn crafts is by removing the kernels from the ears of corn and then letting them paint each kernel in fun fall colors like orange, burgundy and gold. With glue sticks and construction paper, let your kids create fun images out of the corn kernels—the design possibilities are endless.
Bottle gourds can be harvested in autumn, then dried to create the perfect birdhouse. Begin by drilling a 2-inch hole in the gourd and removing any of the dried pulp and seeds. Next, clean the outside of the gourd and then paint it with an exterior paint. When the paint has dried, you can turn the crafting over to your kids, allowing them to paint over the initial paint base. Finally, drill a few quarter-inch drainage holes in the bottom of the gourd and a hole at the top where you can string a leather strap. Hang the birdhouse from a tree where the whole family can watch and wait for the birds to move in.
One fun way to celebrate the season is by letting your kids put a "coat" on their favorite tree. Head to the craft store and pick up some yarn or ribbon in seasonal colors, then allow them to wrap the trunk of the tree with the materials, creating a "coat" that will keep the tree warm for the winter. Small branches can be decorated with pipe cleaner or thread, just make sure that the tree is gently wrapped and the bark of the tree is left undisturbed.
Create crafts you can wear by making and designing fun and funky acorn necklaces with your kids. After collecting acorns from the yard, drill a small hole in the cap of the acorn and string a piece of yarn or thread through the hole to create the necklace. Next, turn the creation over to your kids and let them decorate their natural necklace with paint and glitter.
Birdbaths are important any time of year, but they're especially necessary during the winter months when birds can have a hard time finding fresh water to drink. Each autumn, make it a tradition to have your kids construct a few birdbaths out of recycled materials they find around the house. These can be made out of plastic milk cartons, trays used to catch water from flowerpots or any other container that might appeal to birds. Have your kids decorate the birdbaths with natural materials and place them around your yard and refill them with fresh water through the fall and winter.