I love celebrating the changing of the seasons. We started off our Autumn session with a Falling Leaf Mobile to honor the changing color of the leaves! In this lesson plan we practiced a lot of fine motor skills such as drawing, cutting with scissors, glue control, and threading yarn through a small hole.
- Stick (found on nature walk or in the park)
- yarn (could also use fishing line or ribbon)
- heavyweight card stock coloring page (I drew five simple leaves with a pen. Because I teach 60-70 kids a week I xeroxed my original)
- oil pastels and/or crayons
- white glue
This is a two year old drawing with oil pastels. I had children draw on the leaf coloring page before the leaves were cut out so it didn’t matter if they stayed within the lines. The point was to have fun, fill the page with color, and if the student was up for the challenge and interested to stay within the lines.
Through observation I’ve noticed most children make a natural developmental leap to color within the lines around three, but sometimes not until they are four or five. The child above is three and you can see how she is experimenting with where to put her colors, most of which landed inside the leaves.
Here is an example of a four year old who has mastered “respecting the line”. She’s also made intentional color choices, keeping each leaf a different color.
One of the reasons I teach art to young children is because it brings so much joy to their lives. Parents tell me all the time that their children ask to come to art class throughout the week and some of them don’t even mention it’s art class day until the morning of because their kids get so excited to come. When my students feel joy, I feel joy!
To assist even the most competent scissor users I first cut each leave apart from the one next to it. Then I had students trim off the excess paper. Following a curved line can be tricky. I teach holding the scissors in place and turning the paper vs. turning the scissors. This works great for cutting circles too! For students who weren’t quite ready to follow the outline of the leaf I had adults cut the leaves and give the negative space scrap paper to their child so they could get in some scissor time too.
After cutting the leaves out we punched holes using a single hole punch. My hole punches are pretty stiff but a determined child can do anything!
Before we added glue adult and child worked together to string the leaves and tie onto the stick. This step is way to advanced for my young students to do themselves but I really like them to participate so I had each child string the yarn through the hole. The adults were the worker bees, double knotting the yarn on the leaf and on the stick where the child showed them.
The final and probably most loved step was GLITTER! For this project we practiced glue control. I once learned the most amazing rhyme from a parent, “dot, dot, not a lot”. We will forever use this in the studio. Even the youngest students understand the concept. When I demo “dot, dot, not a lot” I use the following language “squeeze and let go, squeeze and let go”. Children love to squeeze but letting go is where the control kicks in. Above is an amazing example of glue control by a four year old.
Have fun with your Falling Leaf Mobile and keep checking back for more Autumn projects!