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Naturally Educational » 0-3 (Babies and Toddlers), 1-2 (Toddler), 1-2 (Toddlers), 3-5 (Preschool), 3-5 (Preschool), 3-5 (Preschool), 5-6 (Kindergarten), 5-6 (Kindergarten), 5-6 (Kindergartners), Fall, Science, Sight, Visual-Spacial, Weather » Cascading Leaf Spiral

Cascading Leaf Spiral

For those of you who live further north, your leaves have probably already fallen.  On Long Island, ours didn’t really hit their peak until the last week of October and the forests are still a riot of color here.

One resourceful friend of mine in Texas has a friend in Vermont ship her a package of leaves so the children may experience the autumn hues.  Fall is one of my favorite parts of living in the Northeast and I enjoy sharing the change of seasons with my children.

Whether or not you have changing leaves near you, you can enjoy this craft with your children…we adapted this craft from one at No Time for Flashcards.


  • coffee filters
  • water color paints
  • glitter paints or glitter glue
  • one (1) piece of blue or green construction paper
  • scissors
  • glue


1. Draw a spiral on a piece of blue or green construction paper.

2. Have fun painting the spiral with glitter paints!

3. While waiting for this to dry, trace the outline of several leaf shapes on the coffee filters.

4. Paint the leaves with red, yellow, orange, and brown water color paints. (This is fun and easy even for toddlers.)

5. Allow the filters to dry and then cut out the leaf shapes.

6. The spiral should be dry, depending on how enthusiastically your children covered the surface with paint–mine tend to be of the Vincent van Gogh school and prefer a nice thick impasto technique.  Cut along the lines of the spiral and hang the spiral from the ceiling. Glue the leaves at random points along the spiral for a falling leaves effect.

Plenty of opportunity for tracing and cutting practice in this activity!

Educational Connections:

Books About Autumn / Fall Leaves

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves, by Julia Rawlinson, shares the story of an adorable fox who tries to return the autumn leaves to the tree. His woodland friends try to tell him that the tree doesn’t need the leaves anymore but Fletcher thinks that the wind, the squirrel, and the porcupine are all stealing the leaves. Finally, Fletcher realizes that the tree is beautiful in winter as well, and is content in its icy splendor. This is a sweet tale told from the perspective of a child (albeit a kit) and opens the door to explaining the changes of the leaves. A bit long for your more fidgety toddlers but just perfectly captivating for ages 3, and up.

Leaves, by David Ezra Stein, tells a similar tale to the one in Fletcher and the Falling Leaves. A young bear is surprised to see the leaves falling during his first autumn. When his efforts to replace them fail, he gathers up a pile of the fallen leaves and hibernates for the winter. When he awakens, he is delighted to see the spring buds on the tree. The charming illustrations capture the innocence of the bear and the animated wonder of the falling leaves. A shorter book, this will hold the attention of most toddlers, as well as preschoolers and kindergartners.

Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber describes the shapes and colors of falling leaves from a child’s perspective using vivid metaphors: “Stubby fingers, brown as dirt, reach from the slender white oak leaf” or “The basswood’s glowing yellow leaves are shaped like hearts with little teeth.” Older children will have fun identifying leaves on nature walks and coming up with their own metaphors. Younger children will still be able to appreciate the lively text of no more than two to four lines per page. Lush illustrations by Leslie Evans make this a joy to share with groups of mixed ages.

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Written by

Candace Lindemann, Yale, BA, Harvard Graduate School of Education, EdM, is an educational consultant and published writer. She enjoys new learning experiences with her children, ages 6 and 4 and 1.5.

Filed under: 0-3 (Babies and Toddlers), 1-2 (Toddler), 1-2 (Toddlers), 3-5 (Preschool), 3-5 (Preschool), 3-5 (Preschool), 5-6 (Kindergarten), 5-6 (Kindergarten), 5-6 (Kindergartners), Fall, Science, Sight, Visual-Spacial, Weather · Tags: , , , , ,

16 Responses to "Cascading Leaf Spiral"

  1. Theophanie says:

    Such a wonderful thing to do!

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