Thursday, October 11, 2012

Autumn Leaves

It's that beautiful time of year again when the leaves are turning brilliant hues of reds, oranges, golds, and russets...  I love it!  This week I've been eying the glorious beauty from individual leaves to entire tree-lined streets that have burst into flaming colors.  And like last year, I've been thinking of what special projects to do with these beauties for writing to my sponsored kids... that is, after I finish getting all my Christmas packages off in the mail!  But while the leaves are beautiful, now is the time to go collecting some and pressing them for future projects.

I loved doing all kinds of fall leaf projects with my boys when they were children... leaf crowns, leaf rubbings, leaf prints, pressed leaves... and taking many autumn walks while singing special childhood autumn songs together, such as these two which were my favorites... 

"Many days are bright in October,
There is happiness in the air!
Red and yellow leaves from the autumn trees 
Are drifting everywhere..."

"Come little leaves said the Wind one day,
Come o'er the meadow with me and play.
Put on your dresses of red and gold,
For summer has past and the days grow cold.
Dancing and skipping the little leaves went..."

Last year after hearing of the leaf projects of some sponsor friends who were laminating leaves for their kids, I was once again inspired, and decided to make leaf cards for my sweeties.  One friend told how she went out into the yard (and into the neighbors' yards) in her pajamas hunting in the dark for for the perfect maple leaves that could be laminated and sent... I had to laugh, because I pretty much did the same thing... it was already pitch dark when I impulsively decided I wanted to do this project "now!", so I was out in the front yard, furtively trying to pick "good" leaves off my Sunset Maple tree and the Pin Oak trees along the driveway, waiting in-between cars going by so no one would see me!  

After pressing the leaves between pages of an extra telephone book for several days until dry, I glued the leaves directly onto the cards... but then I didn't know whether they would get buggy, moldy or ruined in time, especially considering that sponsored kids keep their letters "forever."  I ended up sending them to some good friends that I knew would enjoy them for the moment, but who weren't likely to hang onto them indefinitely... and saved one as an experiment to see how it held up after a year.  Well, I have good news!  It's still beautiful!!! 
It's pictured here on a placemat... though I would love a design like that for a border.  :o)

I ended up making this version that I actually sent to the kids...  I picked some more leaves to use fresh for making leaf prints.  It was a bit tricky, and not quite as simple as using a rubber stamp, but they still came out beautiful.  I sprinkled embossing powder on the wet ink and dried it with an embossing gun for the finishing touch... and also did the same for each child's name, using a miniature set of alphabet stamps that I bought at Michael's for $1.  I googled for other images to print out and add to my card... I especially love Beatrix Potter's squirrels and bunnies, so for these fall cards I added squirrels throughout the card/booklet.  

And when I received other correspondence children after I made my first batch of cards, I found some lovely leaf stickers to use with my leaf prints... here on this card, the leaves and letters of the child's name look like they are tumbling in the wind.

Several pages of cardstock were stapled inside the card to make it a booklet, since the information I received from Compassion is that staples are ok to use for attaching our own artwork... I hope that is still true!  Each page featured some of Beatrix's Potters squirrels, and I used a miniature paw print rubber stamp to create a trail wandering across all the pages as if squirrels had scampered there.

The center spread had a map with the child's photo and mine positioned approximately where we each live.  I couldn't find the exact maps that I used for these projects last year, but found two lovely old style ones that are free to use, and are high quality for printing... they are the last two maps posted on the link.  Here is one of them:

And then of course, I added in several photos of family and the autumn scenery for our neck of the woods, talked about walks I was taking and little forest animals I had seen, and wrote the words of one of those favorite autumn songs. And I shared with each child that watching the changing of the seasons reminds me again that God is always faithful to keep His promises:
“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
winter and summer,
and day and night
shall not cease.”
Genesis 8:22

I found some lovely activity enclosures that went with my autumn theme...  woodland animal finger puppets for the little ones, and 3D critters for the older kids to assemble.

And here are a few coloring pages of squirrels, some for the older kids, and others for the younger ones:

Here's one squirrel maze...
there's many more to choose from by googling!
Add caption
Since I did this project last autumn for my kids, and did it again in the winter for three other new ones, I've received... hmmmm... it looks like EIGHT more new children!   So I want to do this again for all these new sweeties.  :o)  Be encouraged to try your own version of a special autumn card for your sponsored child...  whether you try pressing leaves, or take a photo of some beautiful ones, or color a leaf design of your own, your letter, card, booklet, or lapbook will be a cherished keepsake. :o)