The shift from summer to winter is a really magical time. The blaze of colours that the trees put out before their winter rest, the cold air in your lungs, the call of the seasons to draw in and rest with mother nature. We’ve just moved out of the city, and the enchanting shift to autumn has had so much more impact for us this year than ever before, so I decided to try and capture some of that magical palatte with my toddler. We planned to make a waxed leaf mobile for Philly’s playspace, to help bring the outside in, and work some mindfulness into a cute little craft activity. Here are the steps we took so you can try.
Long stick to hang your leaves on
Leaves in a range of colours
Beeswax or vegetable glycerin
Thread and scissors
Step one was a nature walk to gather resources…nature’s most vibrant medium at this time of year: leaves (and one long, dry stick to dangle your dried leaves from). I find this kind of walk is the most beneficial to little ones when you have the time to be completely child led. Take the time to follow their lead. Have an open topped basket or bag to gather recourses, and try not to curate them at this stage (although it’s tempting). You want your little one to be learning that their input is valid and their contribution is interesting to you. Ask them lots of questions about what they see, smell, hear, feel about their surroundings and why they have made their selections of what leaves to bring home in the basket. A nature walk like this is really grounding (as well as sensory balancing) and an excellent first mindfulness technique. Learning to take in the senses when calm is a skill which can allow you and your child to calm panics and sensory meltdowns when stressed.
Next step is to lay out your findings. Making the time to tie some thread to the stalks of the leaves in advance will make the process much smoother! Discuss observations you can make, and be genuinely curious for your child’s observations about what you’ve gathered. Drawing attention to the shift in seasons will be really valuable for learning. Lay down a heat proof mat next to your findings to rest your hot pan on, and some newspaper to let the waxed leaves dry on.
Then, heat up your beeswax (or make up your vegetable glycerin solution if you’re vegan) in an open shallow pan. Your little one can stir the mixture (supervised of course) which will make their contribution feel all the more valued. The next step is to dip your leaves into the melted wax by holding the thread and allowing the wax to cover the whole leaf. Pull the leaf out and allow in a few moments for excess wax to drip off, before laying them on newspaper to dry (or hanging them up to dry is even better if you have the space).
Once your leaves are dried off, work together tieing them on to a stick to create a beautiful mobile of natural colours, textures and shapes. Get to your child’s level when considering where to hang it so that they can enjoy their efforts too!
I’d love to see your waxed leaf creations. Please share on Instagram with #heymummawolf or share to your stories and tag @heymummawolf and I’ll share my favourites (with permission).