How to Turn a Fall Walk Into an Autumn Wreath Adventure
Want to get them out in the fresh air so they can burn some energy AND get creative?
Cure your cabin fever woes with a fun family activity that will get you all outside for a fall walk that will bring back what you need to decorate your door and welcome holiday guests.
In this article I’ll show you how to make a fun and festive fall wreath with your kids using materials you find on a nature walk.
Why Make a Nature Wreath?
The colder seasons give us a chance to slow down after the busy summer months and connect with our kids indoors, but it can be a challenge to find activities everyone will enjoy.
This adventure gives your family a great reason to get out and about and burn some bottled-up energy. It also provides a creative way to spend your time when you get back indoors.
You may be thinking that with all the bright, eye-catching holiday decorations in stores these days there isn’t much reason to create your own wreath.
Here’s a secret… It’s not just about the wreath itself.
Working on this project together is a good way to remind your kids that the makings for some of the most beautiful creations can be found outside in nature, rather than at a superstore.
And it’s a lot of fun to play in the crunchy leaves. This is a great chance to go outside with your kids and make some memories. And then come in and make some more.
You can do this activity in any season and come up with a different-looking wreath every time. We aimed for autumn colors for this article, but the possibilities are endless.
Got a wreath and a glue gun? Set them out in your work area and you’ll be ready when you return from the nature walk with your kids. Go collect items from nature and bring them home to create something wonderful.
#1: Prep for Your Nature Walk With Some Questions
Before you head out the door, ask your kids what they expect to find outside. This is a good time to remind the younger kids how much their environment changes with the seasons. Those flowers that bloomed over the summer may not be there anymore.
Check out this great video that shows all four seasons on planet earth.
Ask your older kids what they’ve seen outside lately and what they hope to find.
Listen to your kids and let them take charge of your leaf-finding expedition. They may have been paying closer attention to the changing seasons than you realize. Who knows—your children might be able to lead you straight to some collectable acorns or interesting berry bushes.
#2: Make a Wreath That Represents Your Area
This project can reflect a true snapshot of your surroundings. In the Pacific Northwest, we have tons of trees, so our wreaths are filled with maple leaves and pine needles.
Help set your kids’ expectations: Different locations will result in much different-looking wreaths.
A walk on the beach may yield a collection of shells, sea glass and driftwood, while a walk through a grasslands area may offer up long beautiful braids of grass that you can turn and twist into a wreath.
Wherever you are, let your children be creative in finding items from nature that they find beautiful.
#3: Gather More Than You Need
It’s a good idea to collect more than you think you’ll need while on your walk.
A greater assortment of items to choose from will help your kids come up with some creative patterns when they get to the wreath-designing stage.
You might not expect to find a lot of colorful things to add to your wreath in winter. Don’t let that stop you! Head outside. You’ll be surprised at how much you can collect on your walk.
Keep your eyes open for unusual items wherever you go. Be on the lookout constantly for things—even common things—to add to your wreath.
Some larger items may be a bit tricky to fit on a wreath, so be sure to guide your younger children toward smaller items that will be simple to attach later. Otherwise, they might get frustrated.
#4: Design Your Wreath
After your walk, lay out what you’ve found. Rather than firing up the glue gun and starting to attach the items right away, encourage your kids to stop and look at what they found.
It’s a good idea to spread the collection on a table and sort through what to use versus discard. I always like to have some extra items on hand to offer the kids in case they find they don’t have enough.
If you sort the collected items into groups it can help the kids plan their wreaths, especially if they’re trying to make patterns with different-colored leaves or design a wreath of all acorns and berries, etc.
This is also an opportunity for kids to share or trade items with each other as they plan their wreaths. Those interactions are always fun to watch!
Be aware that there may be some critters that made it into the collection. When we laid out our nature collection, we had to make a couple of trips to the window to deliver bugs back to the great outdoors.
#5: Glue Items Onto the Wreath
Once everyone has his or her wreath designed, it’s time to fire up the glue gun.
CAUTION: Hot glue guns and melted glue can cause very bad burns! Parents should help younger children and supervise older kids carefully.
Glue items onto the wreath one at a time and let the glue dry in between items.
Attach larger items with craft wire or tie them around the wreath with ribbon or raffia.
Encourage everyone to create an individual masterpiece. Some children like to decorate their wreaths solely with natural items. Others may want to embellish the wreath with crafting items like ribbon or buttons. Resist the urge to “fix” things unless you see someone getting discouraged.
#6: Another Option: Press Your Leaves or Flowers
To keep your nature items fresh, try to do the nature walk and make the wreath on the same day. If you need to do them in two separate sessions, I recommend that you press delicate leaves or flowers to keep them in good shape until you have time to glue. This will help prevent the leaves from curling up as they dry.
Pressing leaves and flowers is easier than you’d think. Just find a thick book and lay your leaves or flowers between the pages with paper towels or toilet paper on either side of each leaf. The paper absorbs any dampness from the items.
When you have all your items in the pages, close the book and put something heavy on top until you are ready to glue the leaves.
Some Final Thoughts…
Talk to your kids about different wreaths they could make in different places. It’s fun to say “What would a wreath look like if it were collected at Grandma’s house in California?” or brainstorm what a wreath made by kids in Hawaii might look like.
This gives the kids a chance to imagine and picture the foliage in different parts of the country (or world) and talk about why different things grow in different places.
I hope this adventure gives you and your kids a great reason to get out and enjoy the outdoors, and that you make a beautiful wreath to decorate your home during the holidays.
What do you think? Please let us know how it goes. What did you and your kids find on your adventure? How did your wreaths represent your environment? Post a snapshot of your wreath below. We’d love to see what you came up with and learn about where you live. My kids and I would love to see what wreaths in other places look like, compared to our “Pacific Northwest” wreath.