The warm, sweet smell of cinnamon sticks is a great way to welcome fall.  This craft combines a few inexpensive materials to create a beautifully scented memento you’ll treasure for years.
Age Group:  3-6 with help, older with supervision
Time: Less than an hour

Materials needed

•       1 sheet of sandpaper per child.  Sandpaper is sold in a variety of grits, which is a description of how coarse the grains are on the surface of the paper.  The higher the number, the finer the grit.  Lower grit paper will work best for this project, but whatever you may have on hand will work.
•       1 cinnamon stick per child.  Since you aren’t cooking with it, you can get by with really inexpensive cinnamon which you can find in craft stores.  The cinnamon sticks you can buy in the spice aisle of your grocery store are fairly pricey, but the cheaper option is more than enough.
•       Sturdy scissors.  Cutting sandpaper isn’t easy; cheap scissors won’t do it.  Heavy duty shears, like tin snips, will go through sandpaper like butter, but can be awkward and certainly not appropriate for kids.  A quality pair of craft shears will work with a little elbow grease.  As a bonus, cutting through sandpaper will make your scissor blades sharper.
•       Pencil.  Drawing out the shapes you want to cut first will ensure you stick to your pattern.
•       Hole Punch
•       Ribbon
•       Permanent marker


1.      Cover your work area with newspaper or a drop cloth.
2.      Pre-cut shapes for kids who can’t cut the sandpaper independently.
1.      Distribute one sheet of sandpaper, a pencil and a cinnamon stick to each child.
2.      Instruct the child to draw a simple shape on the paper side of the sandpaper.  (If not using a pre-cut shape.)
3.      Instruct the children to cut out shapes carefully.
4.      Demonstrate rubbing the cinnamon stick vigorously across the rough side of the sandpaper shape
5.      Instruct the children to do the same, covering the entire surface of their sandpaper shapes with bits of cinnamon shaved from the sticks.
6.      Punch a hole in the top of each shape with the hole punch.
7.      Thread a length of ribbon through the hole and tie in a loop.
8.      Write the child’s name on the front of the shape with the permanent marker.
•       Use several sandpaper leaf shapes rubbed with cinnamon as decoration for a door wreath in September and October.
•       Use Halloween shapes to create decorations for a classroom or the front door.
•       Cinnamon shapes make wonderful Christmas tree ornaments.  Try snowman, bell, wreath or ornament shapes.
Make it a Learning Experience
•       Ask the children to describe what happens when they rub the cinnamon on the sandpaper.  Compare the bits of cinnamon on the sandpaper to the cinnamon you buy in a jar at the grocery.  How are they different?  How are they the same?
•       Take some time to learn about the origins of cinnamon.  What kind of plant produces cinnamon? Where does it grow?  Older kids can learn about the historical significance of spice and the spice trade.
•       It was mentioned cutting sandpaper will sharpen the blades of scissors – ask children why they think this is.
•       For young children who are learning classroom readiness skills, you can cut the sandpaper into shapes for children to identify and in pairs for children to match.   Make sandpaper flash cards by cutting and gluing shapes to sturdy pieces of cardstock.  This was an idea I originally tried with visually impaired students, but found most of my small charges were fascinated with the texture of sandpaper.
Clean Up
•       Minimal.  Fold up drop cloth or newspaper; check the floor for bits of stray sandpaper or cinnamon.
•       Enjoy the smell of fresh ground cinnamon, which should stick around for a few hours.