Arts & Crafts Activities

12 Autumn Craft Ideas for Children

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Autumn is a great time of year for themed craft projects, with plenty of inspiration to be found in the colours, events and natural phenomena associated with the season. Get your preschoolers outside observing and collecting, and back inside making and painting, with these 12 autumn craft ideas – you’ll soon have a nursery full of colourful autumn artwork!

Things to collect

Take a walk to your local park and collect different coloured leaves, pinecones, acorns, conkers, twigs and sticks. At this time of year there’s a huge range of interesting colours and textures to find.

Autumn themes

The natural world is an obvious starting point for autumn crafts – particularly the changing colours and falling of leaves – but you could also take inspiration from the main events of the season, such as Halloween and Bonfire Night or Diwali, and the things that are associated with them (eg fireworks, lanterns, spiders, bats and pumpkins).

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Autumn Craft Ideas for Early Years

1. ‘Rainbow’ leaf collage

Get the children to collect lots of leaves, in as many different colours as they can find (this may work well as a cumulative project involving several trips). Back inside, set up a long section of rolled-out paper and help the children sort and stick the leaves onto it by gradations of colour; so for example, starting with all of the dark red leaves at one end of the paper roll, moving onto bright reds, then oranges, yellows, greens etc.

Autumn Craft Ideas for Early Years

2. 3D trees

Start by painting some short sections of cardboard tube brown – these are the tree trunks. Get some green card and cut out tree canopy shapes (a bit like clouds). Put out some bowls of autumnal colours – eg red, orange, yellow, green, purple, brown, gold – for the children to use to make thumbprints on both sides of their pieces of green card. Cut some short slots into the trunk tops and slide the canopies on.

3. Leaf crown

Each child chooses some leaves; they may be all the same type of leaf, or perhaps a selection of different ones, but all should be fairly large and sturdy. You can then staple them onto a cardboard band to make an autumnal leaf crown.

4. Tree collage

Paint a bare tree silhouette on a large sheet of paper, then get the children to add handprint leaves to the branches, using red, orange, yellow, green etc paint. Some of the leaves could be falling or already on the ground.

5. Conker rolling

For this project you’ll need A3 paper, conkers, and paint in a range of autumnal colours. Get the children to dunk a conker in some paint and roll it over the paper (they may need some help with this); build up layers using different colours.

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6. Autumnal pinecones

Collect some pinecones with the children, and then decorate them. You could push small pompoms (red, green, yellow, orange) into the crevices, or wind pieces of wool (in the same kind of colours) around them.

7. Stick weaving

Find some Y-shaped sticks – small enough for the children to hold easily but sturdy enough to be used for weaving. Make the top part of the Y into a loom by wrapping wool round and round the two arms and tying it off. The children can then weave their autumnal finds into the wool, such as small leaves, feathers etc.

8. Clay hedgehogs

Get the children to make hedgehog shapes using air-drying clay, and then add spines by pushing lots of small, thin twigs into the clay. Eyes can be added using a shaping tool, or by sticking googly eyes on once the clay has dried.

9. Pipe cleaner spiders

Take four pipe cleaners in one hand and then wrap another pipe cleaner tightly around the middle with your other hand. Once the pipe cleaners are secure (you may need more than one around the middle), you can shape the legs on either side of the body, and then hang them up with elastic cord.

autumn craft ideas for early years - collecting sticks

10. Pumpkin apple prints

Cut some apples in half and use these to make prints with orange paint on dark-coloured paper. The shapes will look very pumpkin-like, especially with the addition of eyes and mouths once the paint has dried – for these you could use black paint, pen or stickers.

11. Firework prints

For this activity you’ll need several lengths of cardboard tube with slits cut around the circumference (approximately 5cm long and 5mm wide), so that the tubes can be splayed out into flower-type shapes. The children can then use these to make exploding firework prints on dark-coloured paper with bright-coloured paint.

12. Bonfire paintings

Get the children to collect handfuls of thin twigs. Back inside, help them stick these onto sheets of dark-coloured paper to make the base of a bonfire. Put out some bowls of red, orange and yellow paint and get the children to add flames by making several handprints of each colour above their twigs. These bonfire paintings can be really effective.

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