Thanksgiving Craft for the Whole Family!


  • Fallen leaves
  • Crayons
  • Ribbon and hole punch
  • Scissors
  • Paper grocery bags
  • Glue sticks
  • Washable tempera paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Clear contact paper


On a pleasant autumn day, you and your children can gather a variety of fallen leaves. When inside, cut paper grocery bags into 8-inch-by-11-inch rectangles for your toddler, preschooler, and school-age child. Your children can then glue leaves onto these homemade place mats or lightly paint a leaf and press the imprint onto them. When the finished place mats are dry, cover them with clear contact paper and trim the excess.


As your older children make the place mats, make your baby a bib from the same materials. Cut a bib shape from a paper bag. Show her some brightly colored leaves and describe their colors: “This leaf is yellow; this leaf is orange.” See if she coos or reaches for her favorites. Glue the leaves to her bib, cover it with contact paper, and use ribbon and a hole punch to secure it around her neck. She should wear the bib only under your close supervision.


Your toddler may enjoy gluing leaves onto the grocery bag with your help, but he may have an easier time creating his place mat if you skip the bag altogether. Instead, tape an 8-inch-by-11-inch sheet of clear contact paper sticky side up to the table and encourage him to stick the leaves directly to it. During this process, however, your toddler may discover that the dried leaves will often crumble if he tries to pull them off the contact paper or if he presses them on too roughly. If this happens, talk about cause and effect—and make sure he has lots of leaves! When he’s done, cover his work with another sheet of contact paper.


At this age, your preschooler has the dexterity to paint one side of a leaf and press it onto her place mat. Encourage her to use different colors of paint and different shapes of leaves to create a design.

School-Age Child

For an added art challenge, encourage your school-age child to incorporate the leaf imprints into a drawing on his place mat. For instance, he can turn an imprint of a maple leaf into butterfly wings or an imprint of an oak leaf into the flames from a rocket.


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