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Who can remember, as a child, making corn dollies, collecting tinned food and attending a church service for the annual harvest festival?
This festival is celebrated around the world in honour of the food that had been stored to see communities throughout the winter. The harvest festival is traditionally celebrated on the Sunday that falls closest to the harvest moon, usually in September. Today, while we still celebrate the harvest festival, the focus is more on helping those in need – commonly through food banks – and of course activities and crafts. Why not bake your own treats for harvest festival baskets?
Scarecrows and craft corn dollies are age-old traditions that are still honoured, but there are also lots of new harvest activities you can try with your children. We've got some fun crafts activities, suggestions for harvest games and other ways to celebrate the harvest festival. So grab your craft supplies and your children and have some harvest fun.
Cardboard Tube Scarecrows
It wouldn't be harvest time without a scarecrow or two. Here's how craft-obsessed kids can make their own craft scarecrow without decimating your wardrobe.
Straw or yellow strips of paper
Step one: Younger kids may need a helping hand with making a hat for their scarecrow. Cut brown paper into 10 X 15 centimetres. Fold it in half, then in half again. Open out the second fold and place the paper, so the folded edge is at the top.
Step two: Fold down the top corners to the middle to create a point. Fold up the top piece of paper at the bottom to meet the base of the triangle. Turn over and repeat.
Step three: Draw your scarecrow face on to the top of the tube – add googly eyes if you have them.
Step four: Wrap a piece of coloured paper round the bottom half of your tube to make a coat for your scarecrow. Fix at the back with glue.
Step five: Cut out a small square shape in a different colour and stick to his coat. Draw black lines, so it looks as though it's stitched to his jacket.
Step six: Glue your straw or yellow strips to the top of the tube and then fix on the hat. You can add additional details like a small flower or a button if you wish to make a unique scarecrow of your own.
Fun Pumpkin Balloons
If you've got lots of games and activities planned, then decorate the space you're using. Blow up orange balloons and get kids to have fun drawing on black lines, so they look like pumpkins. When the games and activities are over, they can have fun playing with these.
We love this harvest craft – not only can your toddler have fun making it, but it's a great keepsake harvest festival craft using their foot, hand and fingerprints.
Orange and brown paint
Step one: Paint your child's hand with the yellow paint. Get them to press their hand down on the white card keeping their fingers closed. Set to one side to dry.
Step two: Get your child to stand on the green card and draw around their feet, then carefully cut out.
Step three: Once your yellow handprint is dry, get them to dip their fingertips in the brown and orange paints and dot them over the yellow to make the corn kernels.
Step four: Finally glue the green footprints over the yellow handprint with them angled out to the side.
Corn Cereal Picture
Harvest festival ideas don't come much easier than corn activities!
Step one: Start by cutting out an oblong shape from the green card, and then the same from the yellow card – but make the yellow shape narrower and longer.
Step two: Glue the yellow card on top of the green card and draw a stalk at the top.
Step three: Get your toddler to cover the yellow card with glue, and then they can stick the cereal hoops to it. This is a great chance for younger kids to practise their pincer grip.
Wool Wrapped Pumpkins
Here's a great harvest activity for toddlers – it's super simple and on theme. It can be tricky wrapping the wool, but this craft is an excellent opportunity for kids to work on their fine motor skills.
Step one: Sketch out a small pumpkin shape on your cardboard – don't forget to include a stalk at the top.
Step two: Paint the stalk green and leave to dry. Impatient kids could use colouring pens.
Step three: Carefully cut a tiny snip somewhere on the edge of your pumpkin and thread the end of your wool here, so it's held in place.
Step four: Now wrap the wool around the pumpkin, working across the whole shape until it's all covered. You can use the end of the wool to make a loop by tying it around the stalk.
As harvest craft ideas go this one could not be any easier – you won't even need to empty your craft box. Kids can head outside in autumn to find additional craft supplies.
Card in varying autumnal shades
Step one: Cut the inside of your paper plate out, leaving only the rim to make your wreath.
Step two: From the brown card cut out different leaf shapes – you can add detail with black pens.
Step three: Glue your leaves to the wreath shape and then attach a looped ribbon at the top to hang it from.
Variation: You can also go on an autumn foraging walk and collect fallen leaves to glue to your wreath instead.
Pumpkin Prints With Apples
Your kids will have great fun creating repeating patterns – all you need is an apple. Activities for kids don't come much easier, and it's ideal for harvest festival crafts.
Brown and green pipe cleaners
Step one: Cut your apple in half. Put orange paint on to a paper plate.
Step two: Kids can push the cut side of the apple into the paint and then stamp it on to paper.
Step three: Finish by adding two googly eyes and short pieces of brown and green pipe cleaner for a stalk and leaf.
Autumn Leaf Crown
Harvest crafts make good use of the natural materials around us. This fun harvest festival craft could also use other natural materials for a flower crown instead.
Large fresh leaves
Step one: Pull off the leaves' stalks.
Step two: Take your first leaf and fold the bottom up about two-thirds of the way. Get a second leaf and do the same sliding it, so it sits inside the first leaf but off to one side. Repeat with a third leaf. Then use one of the stalks to pin the leaves together by threading it in and out.
Step three: Keep adding additional leaves in the same way, adding stalk pins where necessary, until you have a length of connected leaves big enough to fit your head.
Step four: Use a stalk to pin the two ends together to finish your crown.
This is undoubtedly one of the ultimate creative ideas for harvest festival – the traditional corn dolly. It can be tricky for little fingers but is one of the best harvest crafts for tweens and teens to make.
Step one: Start by soaking three lengths of wheat in water to make them more supple and make them easier to work with.
Step two: Lay them out so they cross over each other below the ears of corn and tie. Now plait the wheat together as you would hair. Leave around 10 centimetres un-plaited.
Step three: Curl your braid around to create an oval shape at the top and use a piece of raffia to tie it together. Your ears of corn should now be at the bottom, with the braid looping up above and the un-plaited ends at the bottom.
Step four: You can finish by tying a ribbon around the raffia.
Harvest Food Basket
In more recent years the Harvest Festival has been celebrated by donating food to those in need. Give older children a sum of money to spend and challenge them to spend it wisely. Younger children can help you fill-up the basket – include canned food, jams and marmalade, some biscuits, or pasta. Younger kids could go on a foraging autumn walk to find handfuls of conkers and pine cones to decorate the basket with.
Make harvest activities for kids fun. Reading is one of the best exercises that you can share with your kids. So grab some harvest and autumn-themed books and settle down for a storytelling session. We love Hello, Harvest Moon by Ralph Fletcher and Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert for harvest time.
Harvest Sensory Bin
Toddlers will have fun with this harvest sensory activity with a farm theme. Place some astroturf to the bottom of a large, low-sided box. Add cardboard tubes on one side to represent hay bales. Include some toy tractors and then a variety of cereals – Weetabix, Shreddies or Cheerios are all great ideas. Children can have fun using tractors to transport the harvest crops (cereals).
Children will love to make this craft – it's a fun harvest festival picture and easy for small hands.
Step one: Paint your child's hands with brown paint and get them to press down on the white card with their fingers spread out. You may need to do some free-hand painting to finish the trunk.
Step two: Get kids to dab fingertips in different paint colours to make tiny leaves on the branches.
Corn Music Shakers
We love harvest activities and games for kids – and this enables you to put on your very own musical harvest festival. Get children to fill empty plastic bottles with popcorn kernels – add different amounts to each bottle to vary the sounds you'll get. Then, gather the kids and get shaking that corn in time with each other.
Harvest Notes Of Thanks
Harvest festival is a time to be thankful for all that we have. Ask older children to write a note of gratitude, highlighting what they are particularly grateful for this harvest time. Suggest some ideas to them, such as good health, family and enough food but then allow them time to develop their own ideas.
Treasure In A Harvest Haystack
Celebrate autumn and the harvest festival with fun games and activities for kids. You will need some large, empty boxes, wheelbarrows or buckets. Fill them with hay and then bury some 'treasure' for kids to find. Ideas for treasure include small toys, an apple, small chocolates and stickers.
Harvest Festival Bread
If you've had your fill of crafts, try baking a loaf of homemade bread with kids to celebrate the annual harvest. Baking is one of the crucial activities for kids to learn. Not only is it fun but you get to eat what you make too when you celebrate harvest festival.
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