Autumn is a wonderful season for the young child - so much colour and magic! Here are a few ideas to help you celebrate the lovely red-gold season.
The sugar fairy
Leave out a little saucer of sugar, and she will give you a gift in return - a small jewel, a tiny doll, a gold coin. I'm not sure how this became an autumn tradition in our family, we picked it up from somewhere and it was just a little sweetness to add to the year.
Leaf tissue paper
Shave colourful wax crayons using an old grater or knife. Sprinkle the shavings on a sheet of wax paper, lay bright autumn leaves amongst them, then lay another sheet of wax paper on top. Be sure to not use too many shavings, and too many different colours, as then the effect will be muddy. Cover the tissue with newspaper, then iron until the crayon melts, sealing the tissue together. You can then cut the paper into shapes if you like to hang in windows or make a mobile. You can make lanterns from it, use it for wrapping paper, or make a cardboard frame and add it to your nature table.
Paint lettuce leaves with melted chocolate, and place it in the refrigerator to harden. Once set, peel off the lettuce and you have chocolate leaves. They are lovely to place in bowels of fruit. Mesculun leaves give a nice shape.
The apple star story
This is an old favourite of ours. You can find one version here.
Autumn is a season in which we start making things to warm and soften our home for the cold months. To make fancy cushion decorations: cut out circles of material and sew along the edges loosely then draw the thread tight, making a gathered circle. Then sew these onto cushions as decoration. Other simple autumn sewing for children also includes draught-blockers, aprons, blankets, and lap quilts - sweet and easy first-time sewing projects.
Make weaving frames from twigs which you can find in your garden. The frames could be flat and square-shaped, like a traditional frame, or tent-shaped for a three dimensional structure, circular, or anything you want. Tie them together with autumn-coloured wool, and make a loom from wool, embroidery thread, string, or ribbon. Around these frames you can weave leaves, vines, and flowers. The results ultimately wilt, so take a photo!
Guide your child on a spirit quest. Here is one example: Give her a lovely polished pebble which represented a wish or goal she has for herself. She will then place this in a bowl half-filled with water. Blind-folded her and guide her by voice through an obstacle course which you have created using furniture and muslin cloths (if indoors) or stones, trees, or chairs if outdoors. Each obstacle represents an obstacle in her real life. She has to make it around the course without tipping her stone from the bowl. You may want to compose a short poem, appropriate for the particular child, to recite at beginning or end.
Traced around leaves from the garden then colour in the shapes using beeswax crayons or watercolour paint. If you drew each leaf on a separate piece of paper, you could string them together and hang them as a banner.
Autumn leaf bowl
Create a lovely, delicate bowl by building up a paper-mache shape on the inside of an old crockery or stainless steel bowl. If you use tissue paper, and layer bright autumn leaves and tiny flowers or petals through it, these will show through the final result. For glue, use simple flour and water paste. These are lovely to use as Christmas presents for cousins or siblings - fill with chocolates, sweets, or homemade cookies, and wrap with cellophane and ribbon for a simple, afforable, and beautiful gift.
Leaf fairy peg dolls
There are many ways to make little fairies, but the simplest is to buy wooden pegs, dress them with cloth glued onto the peg, draw little faces on the head if you wish, and make hair with snippets of wool. You can then make wings from browned leaves.
Wrap cloth around a circle of fine wire, or use Christmas tinsel, to make a simple crown. Onto this you can sew or staple autumn leaves and flowers, golden ribbons, tiny golden stars.
There are several different ways to make paper lanterns. One favourite was to paper mache coloured tissue paper to an inflated balloon and, when it was dry, cut holes in the shape, put a candle inside through one of these holes and glue it to the bottom, and tie coloured string to the top. The light shining through is beautiful.
Shave down old crayons, or break them into little chunks, and mix the colours together in small tin muffin trays. Melt these in the oven then let them set, and you have a whole new set of rainbow-coloured crayons.
Make your favourite soup and tell this lovely story.
Cover pinecones with peanut butter and seeds ... or cut gashes in an apple and press seeds into the flesh ... then hang them from trees to feed the wonderful wild birds in your garden.
On long ribbons or strands of tissue paper, write wishes or prayers for the welfare of impoverished people in the world and tie them to a tree. As the writing fades in the wind and rain, the wishes will disperse through nature.
As the weather begins to get colder, make sure your garden fairies are well-provisioned. We approached various trees and asked them to help us shelter our fairy friends. Then at the foot of these trees we built little fairy houses from twigs, leaves, wool, ferns, moss. My daughter was always delighted by evidence of occupation - glitter sprinkled outside, a tiny letter left for her, incy wincy fairy laundry hanging from a washing line.
You can find many more autumn crafts at the following places ...
The Magic Onions
Parenting Passageway: some kindergarten tales