Autumn is a wonderful time for children to learn about the magic of trees and the many things they provide. The riotous display of color is enchanting and may arouse questions about why leaves change color and what is the tree doing?
You can capture the beauty of the last leaves of Autumn in a lovely spiced salt dough. Scented with sweetly spiced herbs that come from trees, this little Fall craft is a wonderful way to celebrate the beauty of the season and to teach little ones about the magic of trees.
The first step is to go on a leaf hunt! What could be better than walking through big piles of crunchy colorful leaves on a beautiful, crisp Autumn day? Search for big, lovely leaves of all different shapes and sizes. Collect them and bring them home for pressing.
For very young children, We’re Going On A Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger and Miki Sakamoto is fun to read before heading out. It has a fun little adventure with lots of leaf shapes clearly shown for each tree the children in the story encounter.
Bring all your leaves home and pick your favorites to press. Then make this easy, wonderful smelling dough to press your leaves.
Tree Spiced Dough Recipe
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
¾ to 1 ¼ cup of strong cinnamon tea with 3 cinnamon sticks or 2 tbsp cinnamon chips
1 tsp tartar
3 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground cloves
1 tbsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
Make the cinnamon tea by infusing the cinnamon sticks or chips in 1 ½ cup of boiling hot water. Cover and infuse for 30 minutes or longer. Strain and retain the liquid.
Blend together the flour, salt, cream of tartar and ground herbs.
Next add the cinnamon tea a little bit at a time until you get a nice doughy consistency that holds together but is not sticky. I like to do this all in my Kitchen Aid, it is easy! You could certainly mix this up by hand with your child(ren) kids too, which I am sure they would enjoy.
At this point you are ready to make your shapes and prints, or you can refrigerate the dough in an airtight bag until you are ready to use.
Roll or press the dough out into whatever shape you desire.
Choose a beautiful leaf to press and gently push it into the dough, vein side down. Carefully peel away to leaf to see the print you have made!
Use the straw to poke a little hole for hanging.
Dry these in the oven at a low temp for a couple of hours. Be sure to keep a close eye on them and flip them halfway through the drying process. Or you can let them air dry for a couple of days.
Special Notes: This project is perfect for doing with groups of children such as at preschool or in an herb class! Plus this wonderful smelling dough makes a great base for all kinds of projects including ornament making during the holidays!