Tested on ages 8, 6, 2, and 20 months, this project was a success!
I pre-cut the leaves using the Autumn Leaves template and tracing them onto red, orange, yellow, and brown construction paper. I made 48 leaves total.
Quick tip: trace one leaf in a corner of the construction paper. Fold the paper into quarters and cut through all 4 layers. Voile! 4 leaves, one cut!
I drew the spiral design on the paper plates ahead of time. For the two younger children, I pre-cut their paper plates so they went straight to gluing. I gave the two older kids the plates, showed them how to cut the spiral out, and let them do it themselves. I asked the two "Bigs" to make a pattern with their leaves while they were gluing. The two "Littles" were just asked to pick any leaf and put it on the glue. With each leaf I would say something like, "Nice yellow leaf!" or "Ooo! Orange! Good choice!"
I instructed the "Bigs" to get the correct color marker to make the veins of the leaves while I cut and tied the strings to hang up their projects.
This project took about 20 minutes to prep (from brainstorming to ready-to-go). The kids spent about 20 minutes actually doing the project.
While they did the project I asked the kids why I didn't have any green leaves and discussed how leaves change color in Autumn.
The kids worked on Fine Motor Skills, Science (seasons, tree biology), Following Directions, and Color Recognition and Association. (and they didn't even know it!)