Friday, November 7, 2014

Simple Fall Leaf Suncatchers

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Every fall I think of my college roommate, Anne. Growing up in the desert of central California, she had never before experienced the seasonal changes that much of the country takes for granted. I had the privilege of seeing her encounter the chill in the air and rich colors of the leaves for the first time, and it gave me new appreciation for one of my favorite seasons.

One of my fondest memories from our freshman year was surprising Anne that first fall. While walking back from studying at a local coffee shop, a friend and I gathered the most vibrant leaves we could find. Anne was delighted to find a beautiful display of fall colors on her desk when she returned from class that day.

Unfortunately, after a day all those beautiful leaves curled up and their bold colors faded. If only I had thought to preserve them somehow!

These days, whenever we're out in the yard, Kiddo has to gather a collection of leaves to make a picture (just like an episode of Daniel Tiger). While most of the time we just glue the leaves on a piece of paper, I also wanted to find a way to preserve the beauty of autumn for more than a day or two so they don't end up looking like this:

Back when I was in elementary school, we used to seal leaves between two sheets of waxed paper using an iron, but I like this idea even better. One of my co-leaders found it when looking for a craft for our Pioneer Girls group, and I was excited to try it at home. This craft was simple enough for Kiddo even last year at age two.  The leaves actually stayed where we put them (unlike with waxed paper), and there was no hot iron to deal with. It's a perfect simple fall project!

Here's What You Will Need:

  • Clear Contact Paper (I usually get mine at the Dollar Tree with the shelf liners)
  • Fresh Fall Leaves (they need to be fresh and lay as flat as possible)
  • Hole Punch
  • String (for hanging on the window)

To Make The Suncatcher:

  1. Cut a piece of contact paper to the desired size.
  2. Fold the paper in half, and then pull back the paper liner (sticky side facing up) to where the crease is.
  3. Arrange leaves onto the contact paper, preferably all facing one direction. We chose to face them down toward the sticky part. (The leaves will stick, but if you're gentle, you should be able to re-position if necessary.)
  4. Remove the rest of the paper liner and carefully fold on top of the leaves, smoothing it out as you go to seal the leaves in. (This is a good part for an adult to do first and then let kiddos smooth afterwards or you will get lots of little creases and bubbles.)
  5. Trim the edges as desired, punch a hole in the top, and hang with a piece of string. (I love the festive look of baker's twine.)
  6. Hang the suncatcher in a window and enjoy the fall colors!

Now, don't think Kiddo was the only one who had fun with this project. Mommy had to make one too! I got creative and decided to make a "wreath" for our front door.

We used the last of our contact paper to make these suncatchers, and almost every day since Kiddo has asked me when we can buy more. He was so proud of his "leaf pitch-ter" and can't wait to make another one!

This is my kind of kids' art project. Simple and inexpensive, with minimal prep or clean-up. Plus, the suncatchers look so pretty that we leave ours hanging in the play room for months!

What fall fun have you been having lately? 

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