Nov 09, 2022
Lions, tigers and bears.. Oh my! A fun nature craft is to make your very own lion head using leaves! This simple and easy project can be accomplished by toddlers, but is also exciting for kindergarteners to do.
The main ingredient from nature that you will have to find is red or orange leaves. Autumn can be a great time to find colorful leaves, or you always have the option of painting leaves the right color. Perhaps you want to start this craft by going on a hike with your toddler to find the perfect leaves.
Once you collect the leaves the project should be quick, about 10 to 15 minutes. The perfect craft for young ones shouldn’t take too long or their attention span will waiver.
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Red or orange leaves are the perfect color for a lion’s mane. Go outside and try to find the ideal leaf shape and color for your lion. You might have the perfect tree in your yard or you might have to go on a walk in your neighborhood to spot the ideal candidate.
I found that in autumn my blueberry bushes had red oval-shaped leaves that were perfect for this project. Oval-shaped leaves work best as you are going to glue them in a complete circle around the paper plate.
Some other trees that produce oval-shaped leaves are beech, dogwood, quince, goat willow or birch trees. If you can’t find what you are looking for in your yard a walk through the park or woods might be your best bet.
Make it fun for your toddler or preschooler. Bring a bucket and once you have located the perfect tree tell them to collect as many red/orange leaves as they can! A total of 15 leaves should be sufficient for one lion.
On the backside of the paper plate you will need to create the lion’s head. To start, paint the whole circle yellow. I like to use washable paint in case my toddler and preschooler are messy and a thicker paint brush which is easier for little hands.
You will want a consistent paint with no lumps. You might have to smooth over some of your child’s paint before moving on to the next step.
Hint: If painting indoors, put cardboard or newspaper down first. This will help contain the mess because little kids are messy!
Around the outside of the yellow circle add glue. I used Elmer’s glue for this project, but a glue stick would work as well. I do small sections at a time, only adding more glue once the leaves of the previous section are complete.
Have your toddler/preschooler place a leaf where you placed the glue. Continue this process until the full lion’s mane is created.
Hint: I control the glue and allow my kids to place the leaves. This ensures the glue is placed in the right spots and avoids glue disasters.
Allow your child to select googly eyes for their lion. Once selected, place glue on the back of the eyes and place them on the face.
Next select a pom pom ball that will act as the lion’s nose. Put glue on the ball and place it on the face under the eyes. I gave my 2 and 4 year old the choice of yellow or orange nose, but black would have been ideal.
The last step is to draw on the mouth. Use a black marker or sharpie to draw on the lion’s mouth. This will complete your nature lion.
Allow time for all the glue to dry before allowing your child to walk around and show off their lion!
Toddlers doing the project might not glue their leaves perfectly or place their eyes and nose in the right spot, but that is okay! As long as your child has fun and is proud of their work that is all that matters.