How to Make Stained Glass Kids’ Art With Fall Leaves
Looking for a way to bring the warmth of fall’s colors indoors?
Want to plan a fun family activity that only takes minutes?
Turn mementos from a fall nature walk into a lasting memory you’ll enjoy through the winter with a 10-minute project you and your kids will love.
In this article I’ll show you how to create homemade “stained glass” from colorful fall leaves in 3 easy steps.
Why Make Stained Glass Leaf Art?
There’s something fascinating about autumn leaves: to see something that was verdant just a few weeks ago magically transformed into bright yellows, deep oranges, rich reds and dark browns is mesmerizing to a child—or anyone, if you stop to think about it for a minute.
It’s great fun to take a walk with your family in search of the prettiest fall leaves, hearing the dry ones crunch underfoot as you look up into the canopy.
Fall leaf stained glass gives you a way to preserve the lovely leaves you gather and enjoy their colors long after the trees have gone bare.
It’s also a great way to get rid of those little scraps of broken crayon!
In this project, you’ll spend just minutes gathering a few items you probably already have at home.
You’ll enjoy a nature walk with your family.
And you’ll nurture your kids’ creativity with a simple craft project that yields beautiful results.
In 3 easy steps, you’ll be enjoying beautiful homemade stained glass.
Gather the supplies above before you go on your nature walk so your kids can jump right into the project after collecting the leaves.
#1: Get Ready… Gather the Leaves
The hunt for the best-looking leaf is an adventure all its own.
It’s a good idea to gather lots of leaves. You don’t have to use them all.
Try to make sure you have several different colors of leaves and a variety of sizes. It’s ok to include some green ones along with the reds, yellows and oranges.
Just for fun, take some time during your walk to play in the leaves.
Make piles to jump in, cover each other up or just throw them in the air to enjoy a fall leaf shower. It’ll make great memories for your kids.
#2: Get Set… Set Up Your Work Area
Once you have gathered your leaves, get ready to make some homemade stained glass.
Peel the wrappers off of the crayons. If you’ve got tiny broken pieces of crayon floating around in your crayon box, this is the perfect time to use them.
Place crayons between two pieces of wax paper.
The crayons need to be crushed down in size so they will melt more easily. Use a rolling pin or hammer to crush the crayons to pea-sized pieces or smaller.
Time-saver tip: You can turn on the iron while the kids are crushing the crayons. Be sure that the cord is not somewhere that children could trip over it. Always follow safety precautions so no one gets burned.
#3: Go… Make Stained Glass
Cut two sheets of wax paper to the same length.
Lay down a work towel (one that you won’t mind getting melted wax on).
Place one sheet of wax paper on the towel. Wax paper doesn’t have a “right” side, so either side will work the same.
Here’s the artistic part: Arrange some leaves on the wax paper in a pleasing pattern and then sprinkle with crushed crayon.
Make sure your leaves and the crayon bits are not too close to the edge of the paper. If they are, the stained glass will not seal properly.
Cover your creation with the second sheet of wax paper and press gently with the hot iron. Be sure to turn off the steam function.
It’s interesting to see what the crayons look like when they’re melted into bright bursts of color.
Your autumn leaves will be pressed flat and preserved between the two sheets of wax paper so you can enjoy them all winter.
Trim to desired shape. Be sure to leave a small border of wax paper around the leaves so it will stay stuck together.
Tape to a window. You’ll be able to see the light shining through the melted colored wax. Voilà—you have a fall leaf stained glass masterpiece!
Try these variations:
Get creative with your shapes. Cut out your stained glass into hearts, diamonds or leaf shapes.
The possibilities are endless. One idea is to create several small cathedral-style stained glass arches.
Don’t limit yourself to windows. Use your stained glass as a colorful addition to craft projects and gifts. Include them in greeting cards or use small ones as bookmarks.
Some Final Thoughts…
Make it educational. If you have a little extra time, there are many other activities you can add to this project, including:
- Have a leaf-finding scavenger hunt.
- Sort the leaves you gathered by color, shape or specific kind.
- Make nature journals. Have your children draw what the tree and leaves look like and write the name of the tree in the journal.
- Talk about how the tree looks different in each season (fall, winter, spring and summer).
- Draw and identify the different parts of a tree (trunk, branches, leaves, roots…).
For older children, have them:
- Identify the leaves you gathered.
- Make a nature journal and include specific information such as the tree’s scientific name.
- Find out where each tree most commonly grows.
- Talk about the difference between an evergreen (needle) and a deciduous (leaf) tree.
- Have them guess how long it will take for all of the leaves to fall off of the tree.
- Ask them how long they think it will take to rake up all the leaves for each tree.
- Talk about why the leaves turn colors in the fall.
- Do a science experiment to discover the colors inside the leaves.
- Talk about photosynthesis and how the tree gets its nutrients.
What do you think? I would love to see how your homemade fall leaf stained glass project turns out. Please leave me comments and pictures in the box below.
Sarah Shipley is a homeschooling mom of four girls, part time employee and runs an urban farm. When she’s not milking goats or preparing school lessons, Sarah enjoys creative writing. Other posts by Sarah Shipley »