Everyone at LittleLife HQ is welcoming the sudden onset of autumn with delight. We love to watch how quickly our natural environment here in the UK changes with slightly cooler, wetter, windier weather. And it gives us an excuse to get togged up and out there, kicking up the leaves. But when there’s an unwell child in the house (and it is chicken pox and norovirus season) you need gentle activities to pass the time. Making a felt autumn tree with poorly preschoolers who are just learning their numbers could be just the tonic.
- Stiff cardboard or an old pin board
- Coloured sheets of felt
- A collection of small leaves
Take your Little Explorers on a restorative nature trail to forage for small fallen leaves. Children love anything in miniature and this is a lovely activity – it encourages them to discern between the large and tiny leaves and they’ll start to notice all the different colours the leaves are turning.
Use a hot glue gun to attach a sky blue felt background to the board. Then ask your Little Explorer to set out the small leaves on different coloured sheets of felt. They can trace around the leaves and cut the outlines with your help. It’s a good idea to teach your children how to use scissors before the reach school age – a surprising number of children haven’t mastered scissors before they get there, and it is great for their dexterity and confidence. Whether you use safety scissors or not is up to you!
Then, draw the outline of a winter tree on the brown felt and cut it out before sticking it to the blue background. This will be more fiddly so probably best to do this yourself.
Your Little Explorers can add the leaves to the branches or let them fall to the ‘floor’ of the picture or on to your table. It’s a sweet way to let art take over a space.
You can make up a maths game with your autumnal tree - putting the same number of leaves as the floor, or taking some away and adding them up, or simply let their imaginations run free with play with bunnies, squirrels or any other miniature toy props your Little Explorers might choose.
Expert Explorers: Did you know that felt is made from boiled wool? That’s why your woolen jumper will shrink if it is washed at a high temperature. There are lots of ways to make felt, but one way you can do it at home is to take some wool and gently pull it into tufts, then overlap these on a baking tray with all the fibres going in the same direction. Then pile up a second layer of wool tufts over the top, with the fibres running perpendicular to the first lot. On top of this you put a sheet of tulle. Then you mix up washing liquid with hot water, spray it on to the tulle, then work this liquid into the wool with a piece of soapy bubble wrap. You’ll see eventually that the fibres have knitted together! Felt can be cut without fraying so it’s a strong and versatile material!