Fabulous Finger Foliage
This column, produced in partnership with Mommy & Me™, provides parents and young children with fun and simple ways to make the most of their time together. Use the activities, tips and resources featured here to help you connect with your young ones.

Fabulous Finger Foliage

Everyone loves fall! From crisp apples to cozy sweaters to crunching leaves, autumn is a treat for

Your Child Will Learn:
• about colors

• that there are lots of different kinds of trees

• that leaves come in all shapes and sizes

• about the fall season

• fine motor coordination
the senses – and especially a feast for the eyes. Even in warmer climates, there are plenty of opportunities to see amazing displays of foliage.

Naturally, curious little ones will want to know what has brought about this dramatic change in their surroundings, asking questions such as “Why are the leaves changing color?” and “Why are they falling?” Simple and fun art activities using leaves as their theme are the perfect springboard to talk to your child about this beautiful time of year.

Before you get started, take a walk with your child and gather up leaves in a variety of shapes and colors. Talk about which are your favorites and why. Then head inside and celebrate the season with a masterpiece inspired by nature!

Mommy’s Materials

Autumn leaves

Brown, green, yellow, orange and red tempera paint

Construction paper

Small, open plastic containers



Grow Your Tree

gination: none; mso-shading: white; mso-pattern: solid white; mso-layout-grid-align: none; punctuation-wrap: simple">1.  Cover your work area with newspaper.

gination: none; mso-shading: white; mso-pattern: solid white; mso-layout-grid-align: none; punctuation-wrap: simple">2.  Pour a small amount of each color of paint into its own plastic container.

gination: none; mso-shading: white; mso-pattern: solid white; mso-layout-grid-align: none; punctuation-wrap: simple">3.  Direct your child to place his palm and fingers (except his thumb) into the brown paint, then ask him to press his hand on the construction paper. This imprint will serve as the tree trunk.

4.  Instruct your child to dip just the pad of his thumb into one of the brightly colored paints. His thumbprint will create a “leaf.” Provide a wet paper towel or sponge so he can clean off his thumb before switching to another color. (And call out each color as he chooses it to reinforce color recognition.) He can press his thumb along the branches to create a tree of autumn splendor, or make prints at the base of the trunk to create a blanket of fallen leaves. You too can have a red, yellow or orange thumb! Jump right in and add your own larger leaf prints.

5.  Glue real leaves around the edge of the picture to create a frame.

6.  Congratulate your child for doing a great job. Then show him how much you love his creation by displaying it on the refrigerator for all to see!

You can also do this activity with a group of your child’s friends: Use a long sheet of paper and let everyone join in to create a whole forest! You could also make it a project for the whole  household, resulting in a collection of “family trees.”

More Mommy & Me Foliage Fun

• Leaf Scrapbook – Place autumn leaves between paper towels, then sandwich them in a heavy

Why do leaves change color?
More Fall Facts

book to dry for a day or two. Tape the dried leaves into a blank journal to create your own nature scrapbook. Ask your child to guess what kind of tree each leaf came from.

• Autumn Window Decoration – Position a pretty leaf between two pieces of waxed paper. Place a sheet of plain paper or cloth on top, then iron on a low setting (adults only). After the leaf is secured between the waxed paper, hang in a sunny window.

• Lovely Leaf Rubbings – Glue various leaves in an artistic arrangement on a piece of drawing paper. Cover the leaves with another piece of thin drawing or tissue paper. Be sure to tape down the edges of the top paper so that it will not move. Gently rub the side of a crayon or a piece of chalk across the paper until you see the shape of the leaves coming through. The rubbing should reveal the leaves’ outlines, stems and veins.

Mommy & Me author Cindy Nurik, Ed.D., is a family therapist, a specialist in early childhood education, a playgroup pioneer, a mom and author of Fun with Mommy & Me (Dutton, 2001).

Click here for more  Mommy & Me™ tips, activities and resources, and to find a playgroup near you or submit questions.