By Awnali Mills
September 2 was our monthly craft day (usually accompanied by storytime, but we’re on break), and I felt awful. Still, I dragged myself to work, did the craft, and dragged myself home again. After two days of listening to me trying to hack a lung up, my husband took me to urgent care where they promptly diagnosed me with bronchitis. And pneumonia (for when bronchitis just isn’t enough!)
Suffice it to say, I’ve been fairly miserable for the last two weeks. I’m feeling better, even though I’m still coughing and my voice is totally shot. So, I’m back at work and thought I’d go ahead and share the craft that we did a few weeks ago: foil covered leaves. I thought it was an oldie that everyone would have seen before, but several parents commented that they’d never seen it and loved it. I even had adults doing the craft for themselves—something I’ve never had happen before! And, the kids loved it, so that’s what’s really important.
- Cut poster board or cardboard to the desired size.
- Gather leaves. I trimmed a bunch from a low-growing maple tree in the parking lot because I love the shape of maple leaves. Also, I didn’t want anyone fighting over different leaves, so I made sure they were all the same. You’ll want to be sure that the hard, knobby part that attaches to the branch is cut off—this can poke right through the foil.
- Spray board with adhesive. I sprayed all the boards for the program about an hour ahead of time. When I went to present them to the group I realized that all the stickiness had faded away—yikes! I grabbed a trash can and the spray adhesive and just spritzed each board over the trash can again as I handed them out.
- Place the right side of the leaves firmly down onto the adhesive, making sure the stem gets stuck down as well. This leaves the “wrong” side up—the one with all the veins. The veiny side will provide good relief with the foil.
- Once the leaves are positioned and adhered, lay aluminum foil which is a couple of inches larger around than the board over the top of the leaves, centering the board in the foil. (I had precut all my foil.)
- Press down on the foil gently but firmly, pressing around the leaves’ veins, outlines and ridges to make them visible. This is the trickiest step, because you can’t be too aggressive or you’ll tear the foil.
- Once the foil has all been pressed down, flip the board and foil over, fold the foil up around the board and tape the folds securely.
- The last step, if desired (I gave kids the choice), is to color on the foil with markers and gently dab the color off with paper toweling. Depending on the markers, you can get a lovely color wash this way. If I was doing it with older kids, I would let them use shoe polish, which is what is commonly used to provide color and highlighting.
- Another step that you CAN do (but I didn’t offer) is to back the whole piece with black poster board which is an inch or two larger than the board. This provides a nice frame.