Ahhh, Fall. A time to explore. Eat. Create. Look to our gardens, fields, orchards and nature trails for a bountiful harvest of not only the season’s menu, but materials and inspiration for hands-on art projects and festive crafts. However simple or sophisticated, revel in these cooler months with a homemade masterpiece.
Be resourceful with your seasonal produce to create handcrafted works of art at home…
with an apple.
Cut an apple in half and dip the cut side in paint. Kids can choose to make a collage or stamp the prints onto a painted tree trunk with long branches.
…with a pumpkin.
Hollow out a mini pumpkin and fill it with melted wax and a cotton wick to pour your own Fall candle.
…with seeds and corn kernels.
Save those pumpkin seeds and dry your corn kernels. With a little patience and dexterity, paint or color pumpkin seeds and corn kernels to create a Fall-themed mosaic.
…or check the front flower bed.
Try your hand at making a homemade Fall garland by stringing marigolds or fall mums with twine to adorn your porch. Make your own Fall floral wreath by gluing flowers to a hand-cut cardboard ring to hang on the front door.
If it’s been a while since your last grocery run and you’d rather rely on someone else’s supply box, many local libraries and farmers markets offer arts and crafts activities for kids throughout the Fall season.
“We are big fans of sustainability here, and try to reuse items and use found items for crafts,” says Laura E. Lehner, head of youth services at the Hudson Library & Historical Society.
Lehner and her team lead children in Fall-themed art projects in the Autumn months and allow kids to explore their creativity with as many or as few materials as they choose. In addition to pumpkin painting is the pumpkin character contest, well-suited for young crafty competitors.
“For the characters, [the kids] get random supplies to create a character out of a small pumpkin — yarn, paper, stickers, googly eyes, markers, glitter, etc.,” says Lehner.
Food Free Crafts
Celebrate the harvest by drawing a tree with green leaves and dot the tree and ground with red, green or yellow thumbprints. Conjure a friendly ghost using a lollipop or wooden craft stick with a slit ping-pong ball attached to the top. Cover with a scrap piece of fabric and cinch with a piece of yarn or twine. Add a face using markers or googly eyes for personality. If you don’t have a clear view of the season’s Fall foliage from your window, make your own.
“Cut construction paper and a laminate (contact paper) sheet into the same shape — a fall leaf, an apple, a pumpkin — and cut the inside of the paper to create a frame,” Lehner says. “Peel the backing off the laminate and stick it to the paper. Attach tissue paper scraps to the laminate and hang it in a sunny window.”
Bike rides, nature hikes and backyard exploring warrant peak leaf peeping, posing a strong argument that the best side is the outside when Fall arrives. Although our parks and extensive trail systems give us up-close access to our beautiful natural resources, be mindful of our precious ecosystem.
“I like to say ‘Leave only footprints, and take only pictures,”’ says Supervisory Park Ranger Jennie Vasarhelyi of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. “Everything you find out in nature is something’s habitat.”
Instead of a traditional leaf collection, Vasarhelyi encourages leaf tracing, drawing and rubbings to appreciate their shapes, textures and colors without removing them from their homes. Snap photos of your favorite fall finds – trees, shrubs, leaves, flowers, acorns, maple “helicopters,” buckeyes – and create a photo collage of our local flora. Lean on apps like iNaturalist or PictureThis to identify and learn about the unfamiliar plants and insects you find in the wild.
When the Paint Dries, Refuel
For a post-outdoor adventure or after-craft snack, refuel with these easy recipes using local harvest staples.
Sweet Corn Quesadillas
1 flour tortilla
½ cup cooked sweet corn, removed from cob
1 tablespoon black beans
1 handful shredded cheese
lettuce, fresh chopped tomatoes, guacamole (for serving)
Heat pan over medium heat. Layer corn, beans and cheese on half the tortilla and fold the other half over the top. Cook on each side until light brown. Top with lettuce, tomatoes and guacamole before serving.
Apple Peanut Butter Smoothie
2 apples, cored
2 bananas, sliced and frozen
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup milk of your choice
Blend and enjoy!
Baked Pumpkin Fries
2 pie pumpkins (best for baking)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic powder
½ cup grated Parmesan
½ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut pumpkins in half and scoop out seeds. Cut and peel sections into thin strips. If time allows, soak strips in water overnight or at least 30 minutes before cooking. Dry well and toss with olive oil and garlic powder. Place onto parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through until brown. Sprinkle with Parmesan and salt before serving.