Young children love to do crafts. They get a feeling of accomplishment and pride when showing off their hand made treasures. Autumn is a time of harvest and a time for creating as many start holiday projects and winter wear. Toddlers love to help and many crafts can help keep them out from under everyone's feet.
One project that I started doing in my class room with 18 to 24 month olds was to make leaf garlands to hang either inside or out. These garlands offer both a chance to do something with their hands, as well as exploration. Craft items needed would be yarn or fishing line (cut into one yard lengths), a plastic canvas needle (these are the plastic blue ones as they are dull and won't prick little fingers) and last but not least a huge pile of leaves and your camera.
I always start this project out by having the kids help me rake up at least one big pile of leaves. Then we all jump in and start our garlands (I have done this every year with my own kids and still at 10 my oldest cannot wait to make her garlands). I tie a knot in the end of the yarn put a needle on the other end and show the kids how to poke the needle through the brightly colored leaves and slide them down the yarn. Usually we give the leaf a little fold and push the needle through both sides of fold so that the leaves are side ways on yarn.
Using your kids garlands as decoration is both fun and easy. Just tie the ends of the yarn together to make the length of garland you'll need to drape over door ways, wind through porch or deck railings, as well as lamp posts and mail boxes. They add a touch of fall in the home draped across mantles and door ways as well as coiled up on tables or counters. Be careful of candles, fires and stoves ,leaves burn quickly.
As the kids get older we have started using metal needles that are both sharp and sturdy enough to be used on small pine cones and acorns as well as the leaves. Small crab-apples, as well as gourds where used last year and my kids got so many comments that they are taking orders this year from family members.
This project though doesn't store well as the leaves will dry out and crumble. Some prep work can be done to the leaves to help them stay bright longer if you want to take the time. Pressing the leaves with a low temperature on the iron between to sheets of wax paper works well without making it hard to push the needle through. There is also floral sprays that can be used after the project is finished, that can be found at Walmart even.