Sticky Autumn Collage

California has been hit by a heat wave, so staying inside our hot cave of a house is barely an option. Yesterday was full of swimming, a sprinkler run, a trip to the neighbor’s lemonade stand, and hitting a pinata at another neighbor’s house. So cute! Despite the heat, there’s a lot of fall madness in the air — you can’t miss the mountain of gourds and pumpkins piled up at the markets, leaves are turning colors, and my favorite…spiced pumpkin lattes in the coffee shops. Mmmmm…

So, somewhere between the pumpkins and the lemonade stand, we landed on this fall project that involves spending time outside.

We began by pulling out some clear contact paper. I encouraged my daughter to feel its tackiness, and then we discussed the process of collecting leaves and sticking them to the paper. We found an Easter basket and then took a walk around the neighborhood in search of leaves and other flat-ish treasures. This, by the way, is how we landed on the lemonade stand. It pays to get out of the house!

After collecting (and naming!) the leaves, N stuck them on half a sheet of contact paper.

Hey goofball, where did that come from?

She filled in most of the spaces…good for understanding spatial relationships!

And then we smooshed the other half of the contact paper on top of the leaves. This was followed by two more walks around the neighborhood and two more collages. In our books, this activity was a hit.

When we finally came inside, contact collaging continued with magazine cut-outs, post-its, and googley eyes.


Identification guide for  kids: New England leaves

Nature Detective Leaf Identification Sheet: UK

Leaf Identification Activities

Why do leaves change color?

More Art Projects for Toddlers

12 Simple Art Projects for Toddlers |
For more toddler art projects, you may enjoy the easy-to-set-up activities that use mainly everyday materials in 12 Simple Art Projects for Toddlers.

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Art making workshops with TinkerLab®

Drop-in Art-Making at the TinkerLab Studio

You might not know that behind the blogging scenes, I’m also an art educator and make art in a sunny studio in Palo Alto, CA. Our home is tiny and I’m blessed to have a little extra space to stretch into. The studio is a converted classroom in what was once Palo Alto’s Cubberley High School….

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  1. says

    What a fun outing….you were collecting at the same time we were collecting to send to you. N has such a wonderful attention span. I think this happens because you have aimed these projects in a way that is successful for her. Good work, Mom

  2. says

    Such a pleasure to see your lovely open concept of art with children.
    And leaves are such lovely materials….
    Thank you for what you do.

    I hope you readers will visit my website (anniversary special going on!)
    and my new blog

    There are some giveaways of my books on other blogs, but I’ve lost track. Try an internet search. I’ll do a big give away in November for my 25th Anniversary too.


    • says

      Hi MaryAnn, I love your books (heck, I own four of them!) and wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone looking for process-based art activities that kids are sure to enjoy.

  3. Diana says

    Thanks so much for this great project! Adam had such a fun time collecting leaves and putting them on the contact paper. We didn’t have clear contact paper at home, only white ones. So I ended up putting clear saran wrap on top of the contact paper to “seal” the leaves in. Worked great. Can’t wait to do this project again. Thanks!

    • says

      diana — you are so resourceful! i wouldn’t have thought of using saran wrap, and love that you’ve shared that. definitely a good way to go if that’s all you have on hand.