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Glittered Acorn Craft for Kids

Glittered Acorns (with tips for painting with a 3-year-old)

A few weeks ago, I posted a picture of glittered acorns and explained that we were in the middle of lots of projects, but that I simply hadn't had the time to edit photos or post them.

I don't have any more free time now than then (do you?) but I did manage to get one of our projects (my favorite recent one!) written up to share.

It's good timing because I am starting to see the fall and Thanksgiving supplies go on clearance in the stores, so you should be able to do these crafts for cheap (that is, if you have to buy any supplies).

Making glittered acorns could be your complete activity. Let them dry, put them in a dish or clear vase, and you're done.

Our glittered acorns became one of a long list of materials in tomorrow's project (which is so beautiful and colorful and wonderful!). But you'll have to wait until tomorrow for that.

Glittered Acorns Materials

  • Acorns of many different sizes. We collected ours from the local state park (which is probably illegal) but you could gather than from any old oak tree or buy some non-organic ones at the craft store.
  • Paint
  • Brushes
  • Palettes or paper plates or squares of aluminum foil
  • Small dishes of water
  • Glitter
  • Newspaper or scrap paper, covered with plastic wrap or wax paper

Making Glittered Acorns

1. If you have gathered acorns from nature, you are going to have to debug them. (Literally.) If they're dirty, wash them. Let them dry completely (at least for an hour or two), and then bake them at 350 for 20-25 minutes. The idea is to kill any insects or larvae or eggs that may have been deposited inside. If you don't bake them, the insects or larvae will burrow out through the acorn in a couple of weeks and join you for dinner or get into your walls or something equally horrible.

2. The hard part is over. Split the acorns between your painters and dole out paint to each one.

3-year-old painting tip #1

2-year-olds and 3-year-olds mix all their paints together. If you don't want to her painted project to turn brown, give her only 3 colors, and make sure they are from the same color family. Blue, yellow, green. Red, yellow, orange. Blue, purple, red. Those are the choices. You may add in black and white in small amounts if you want to, but really, 3 colors is plenty.

Now, when the colors get all muddled together (as they undoubtedly will), they will make a color instead of muddy purple or muddy brown, which would certainly be the case if you provided more than one color family.


Grace got her own paints, which is why she has a giant puddle of pink and a giant puddle of green.

These are her choice of fall colors, of course.

Whatever. It's her project, and as much as it bothers me to have pink and green fall acorns, it's her project and I am supportive of her creativity. I keep my opinions to myself.

3. Grace liked painting the caps one color and the acorns a different color. She also discovered that she liked swirling the paint around to make different designs,


and, given her giant puddle of neon paint, she experimented with dipping whole acorns into the paint. We had to use a brush to knock some of the paint off or the acorn would have been just one giant ball of crusty paint.


As you can see below, Allie splattered paint pretty much everywhere, and she mixed her red, yellow, and orange together to make all sorts of swirly and beautiful shades of mostly red-orange.

It's all good.

3-year-old painting tip #2

Expect a giant mess. Kids this age are still seeking sensory experiences, and the feel of paint between their fingers is so alluring that they will most likely dip their acorns and roll them around and rub paint up their arms while they're at it.

Or mine does anyway. I assume they're all pretty much the same.


Try not to offer suggestions on how to paint the acorns. If she wants to dab a dot on each one, great. If she wants to paint them all from top to bottom, terrific. If she wants to paint on the caps or only the bottoms or some combination, be good with it.

Even if she wants to separate the caps from the bottoms and paint the caps alone? Smile and tell her she's doing a great job.

Because she is.

It's not about what you think will look nice, I tell myself over and over.

4. As soon as she is finished with each acorn set it on the paper covered with plastic wrap, and sprinkle it heavily with glitter. Sort of roll it around with your fingernail or an extra paintbrush to get it covered the whole way around. I didn't let Allie help with this part; there would have been glitter all over my house and I wasn't up for that.

Grace actually chose not to glitter any of her acorns. She just wanted her to be painted.



Tomorrow's project involves wreaths, and both of the girls still had gobs of paint left after they'd gotten bored with acorns, so I let them paint their wreath forms.

They enjoyed that immensely.

3-year-old painting tip #3

Be prepared for the act of painting to take less time than the gathering of materials, setting up, and cleaning up. That's just how it goes.

It's frustrating, but that's how it works.


I think they liked painting the wreath forms as much as they liked painting the acorns. It's all about the sensory experience with my kids. The wreaths are straw – sticky (not like tape, but made of sticks of hay, you know), smooth in some places but prickly in others, firm but the edges crumble easily.


I used Allie's paintbrush to find different shades of her paint and point out the yellow and the light orange and the dark orange and the red. I also wrote her name, and she happily traced over it. She's into her name right now.


Grace painted pink and green stripes on her wreath. Like I said, I didn't interfere. She was happy with it.

What neither of them knew at the time is that the wreath form will get completely 100% covered up in tomorrow's project, so this last bit of painting was really just for fun.

Glittered Acorns – Learning Connection

For the wee ones

When we gathered the acorns, we talked about how they are the seeds for oak trees, and the ones that remain on the ground in the spring will sprout and grow into baby oak trees. If you haven't before, this would be a great time to sprout some seeds and watch how the roots and sprout emerge and grow in the right directions. (You'll have to get some beans or something for that. I don't think you can force acorns to sprout easily. I've never looked into it.)

We talked about how insects and squirrels and other animals like to eat acorns because they are basically nuts with yummy insides (but that people generally don't eat them).

We talked about the bugs that burrow inside acorns and could come out in the house and how baking the acorns dries them out and kills the bugs.

There's also a great learning connection in painting, as you talk about mixing colors and how red and yellow make orange (or any of the other combinations). Allie's too small to understand much of the color theory, but she was amazed that as her red and yellow disappeared, she got more and more orange. I tried to talk her through that process.

For the big kids

There wasn't much learning here for Grace. We did talk about how squirrels gather acorns and eat them. We talked about how they know which acorns are damaged or bad and which are going to be good to eat. We also talked about how nature depends on squirrels burying many more acorns than they remember to come back and get later – that's how new trees grow.

Grace and I also wondered why some trees make giant acorns while other trees (in proximity to the first) make smaller or even teeny tiny ones. The size was definitely related to the tree; we didn't find any tree that made both big and small acorns. We came up with several hypotheses, but never got around to looking up the real answer. My guess is that it's related to the specific variety of tree. Anyone know the answer?

© 2013 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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