Unbe-leaf-able Fall Placemat!

Placemat made from a fall leaves of all shapes and colours

Playing with colourful leaves is a fun way to connect with nature in autumn. You can crunch leaves underfoot, rake them into a pile to jump into, and collect them for a craft! This placemat craft is an annual fall favourite in our household.

What you need:

  • Recycled cardboard and paper
  • Something heavy like textbooks
  • Clear, self-adhesive plastic (ex. Mactac, contact paper, clear shelf liner)
  • Assorted leaves
  • Scissors

Kids playing in the leaves

What to do:

1: Go for a nature walk somewhere there are trees and shrubs with colourful leaves. Look for leaves on the ground, and find leaves about to fall off of trees, shrubs, and smaller plants to get a wide variety of colours, sizes, and shapes for your craft. Select leaves that are still soft enough to bend without breaking. 

2: Press the leaves. Cover a flat surface with recycled cardboard and then a layer of paper on top. Lay your leaves out flat. Cover the leaves with another piece of paper and then another layer of cardboard. Place something heavy on top, like your copy of The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Alberta. For best results, allow the leaves to remain like this for a few days.

3: Cut two pieces of clear, self-adhesive plastic approximately 30 x 45 cm.

4: Peel off the backing of one piece of plastic and place it on the table, sticky side up.

Placing leaves on the sticky side of the Mac Tac

5: Picking from your pressed collection, select a variety of leaves with different sizes, shapes, and colours and place them on the sticky plastic, in any arrangement you like. Try to maintain at least 1 cm of space between your leaves and the edge of your placemat. This will help create a sealed border for your finished craft.

6: Peel the backing off of your second piece of plastic. Turn it sticky side down, carefully line it up, and place it on top of your first piece of plastic, with your leaves in the middle. Seal the edges and smooth out any air bubbles by sliding your hands firmly from side to side, over the placemat.

7: For the finishing touch, cut a small amount of the plastic off, all the way around the border of your placemat.

This article originally ran in Nature Alberta Magazine - Fall 2022.