Thursday, September 25, 2008

Leaf Learning Day

This week, the focus of our learning was leafs. This is inspired by Tinytots (see right-blog list). Today, we went to a local park and had a lot of fun simply playing in leafs. We haven't got the color changing of leaves down here yet, but there were plenty of brown leafs on the ground.

Leaf Art
*Collect leaves. Paint one side of the leaf. Press onto white paper. This leaves a beautiful print. Zhana had great fun painting the leafs. I showed her how to do them and then she took off making the prints. In the process, she discovered that she could also dip flowers in paint and make prints. They look like pretty little fireworks. Painting with nature will likely stay as a part of our future endeavors.
*Have the children trace their hands onto construction paper. Make sure that the paper is the color of leaves such as red, orange, brown, green, etc. Then, just glue the hands onto a tree for leaves.

*I had read somewhere about an activity where you make leaves out of coffee filters. We didn't have any watercolor paint around, just fingerpaint. I tried to dilute it with water, but it just didn't work out. Since ours didn't work out, has anyone else tried this? You are supposed to cut coffee filters into leaf shapes and then with eye droppers place watercolors on the leaves. The colors are supposed to blend together.

*Another project we didn't do this time but sounds really cute and we plan to do in the future: Purchase several white tiles from a hardware store (10-30 cents a piece). Using double sided tape attach leaves to tile. Have children sponge paint around the leaf using ceramic paint. When dry remove leaf and tape. Coat with a ceramics top coat. Hot glue ribbon around edges of tile, and also glue squares of felt to bottom. Add child's name and date. Makes a great coaster. Has anyone tried this?

*Make a picture on paper with a lot of space. Collect leafs and tear into little pieces.It’s a leaf mosaic! For ours, we used a printout of a tree. For the trunk, we used the brown leafs crumbled up. For the leaves, we tore up some pieces of mums. I thought she did pretty good for a 2 year old with minimal assistance from her mom!

*Glue a leaf to a sheet of paper and draw features to make them into leaf people, such as arms and legs, necks and heads, tails, etc. Then draw a scene around your leaf person! She did need more assistance with this project. I can't wait to do this with her next Autumn.

*Draw a trunk of a tree. Next, set out fingerpaints in the color of fall leaves. The child dips their fingertip in the paint and makes leaves using the tip of their finger. Next, color the background. This was my favorite project to do with Zhana. Leaf Snacks (we don't have a leaf cookie cutter yet, so this is still on our to-do list.)
*Use leaf shaped cookie cutters to cut out leaves from refrigerated sugar cookie dough. Mix food coloring (fall colors) with milk in several small bowls. Before baking the cookies, use clean watercolor brushes to "paint" the cookies with the colored milk.
*Use leaf cookie cutters with white bread to make leaf shapes. Put on cookie sheet and toast in oven for short time. Give the children strawberry and apricot jam to spread on their leaves so they turn into fall colors.

*Leaf shaped jello jigglers
Leaf Activities
*Fall Princess: Make a 2 inch-wide headband large enough to fit the child's head and staple. Glue leaves all around the crown. Zhana LOVES her crown and I expect she'll be wearing it until Christmas, lol. She put it on and said, "Ta-Da". Also, for the leaves of the crown, we did leaf rubbings which was fun. She could get the concept of rolling the crayon sideways over the leaf, but did have some difficulty with using enough pressure, so I had to help with this.

* Wrap a piece of masking tape (sticky side out) around each child's wrist. Go on a nature walk and have children collect one leaf from each of several trees, sticking it on their leaf bracelet.
· (We haven't done this yet but plan to in the next few days):Cut a tree trunk out of brown felt. Cut leaf shapes out of orange, red, yellow, and brown felt. Arrange on the tree.
· Make a Leaf Puzzle: Glue pictures of leafs onto cardboard (we used a cereal box). Then draw random lines on the puzzle. Cut out and you have a puzzle.
· Leaf Sort Have the children sort the leaves they collected by color, size or type of leaf. You can also make printed leaves, that is what we did.

· Leaf Dramatic Play: Zhana just turned 2 a couple of months ago, so this was a little difficult for her-but she did get some of the exercise! The children can pretend they are leaves. Read the kiddo's the following story and instruct them how to move. "A yellow maple leaf was hanging onto a branch, stretching on its tiptoes and reaching up, holding on with its hands together. The chilly autumn breeze sailed through the tree, shaking the branches and leaves, bending them in the middle, turning them in all directions. The next breeze was strong enough to make the leaves turn in circles and back again in the opposite direction. The yellow maple leaf twisted its top half, bending at the middle, moving in all directions as the wind shook the branch. Suddenly, the leaf lost its hold on the branch and floated down, down . The wind tossed it about in the air. It appeared to be dancing, leaping, skipping in the air. Another puff pushed it higher, as it stretched to grab its old branch. Suddenly the breeze changed direction and turned the leaf around, again pushing it up, leaping up, crouching down, twirling down, flying down. It stopped. The wind moved on to other trees and dropped the leaf to the ground. The leaf sat still. It rolled up against a stick. It wiggled its toes, feet, legs, arms, hands, and neck. The leaf was fine . A rake came toward it and rolled the leaf into a pile with other leaves of all types . Was it going to be burned? The maple leaf shook with fear. It felt a human hand move to push the leaves into a basket and carry them to a garden. The leaves were spread on top of the garden plants and roses. The leaf sat still, warming itself in the sun. It was lying over a delicate rose. As the days passed, its color changed to brown and it became dry. But it smiled and relaxed, for it was protecting the rose from the cold weather and the snow to come.

*Fall Feely Box:Put Leaves, acorns, pine cones, nuts, apples, and other fall nature items in a shoe box with a hole cut in the top. When your child puts their hand in the box, have them describe what they feel.

· To the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down: "Autumn leaves are falling down, falling down, falling down, Autumn leaves are falling down welcome Autumn.Sweep the leaves and put them here, put them put here, put them here, Sweep the leaves and put them here, welcome Autumn.Jump right in and have some fun, have some fun, have some fun, Jump right in and have some fun-welcome autumn."

· To the tune of "Wheels on the Bus." The leaves on the trees turn orange and brown, orange and brown, orange and brown. The leaves on the trees turn orange and brown, all through the town. The leaves on the trees come tumbling down, tumbling down, tumbling down. The leaves on the trees coming tumbling down, all through the town. The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish. Swish, swish, swish. Swish, swish, swish. The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish, all through the town."

*The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein; I'll take any excuse to read this book as it is one of my absolute favorite children books. For some, this book is controversial as they interpret it to symbolize a codependent relationship. I like the book because I believe it teaches about unconditional love. However, please be aware that some people wouldn't read this story to small children, while other people love it and believe it should be read to all children.

* Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert: The description by Amazon reads: " A narrator recalls the Leaf Man that used to live nearby but recently blew away with the wind. "He left no travel plans." From that breezy beginning, the narrator imagines the different flight patterns the Leaf Man may have followed "past the chickens, toward the marsh,... over the prairie meadows,... past the spotted cows," and punctuates the lyrical text with an occasional refrain ( "a Leaf Man's got to go where the wind blows").

· The Fall of Freddie the Leaf by Leo Buscaglia. This is another book that some parents may prefer not to read to small children. My personal view is that at small children will benefit from learning about the cycle of life. As the child grows older, the book can be used to explain the life cycle of human beings as well. This book is popular among therapists to use with children who have bereavement (grief) issues. The Amazon description is: "The Fall of Freddie the Leaf touches children and adults alike, illustrating the delicate balance between life and death. The Fall of Freddie the Leaf is a warm, thought-provoking story about how Freddie and his companion leaves change with the passing seasons and the coming of winter. The book uses the gentle, concrete metaphor of the annual changes in leaves on a tree to help anyone appreciate the different phases of life. Each leaf leaves the tree differently: some drift down quietly, and others fiercely resist the tug of the wind. This shows how each person approaches death differently. Freddy resists until he is withered and brown, the last leaf on the branch. Finally he lets go and experiences a sense of peace.

· The Little Yellow Leaf
by Carin Berger. Amazon describes it "As all the other leaves float off and fly past, Little Yellow Leaf thinks, I'm not ready yet. As the seasons change all around, Little Yellow Leaf holds on to the tree. Still not ready. Will Little Yellow Leaf ever be ready? This is a story for anyone who has ever been afraid of facing the unknown—and a celebration of the friends who help us take the leap.

*I am REALLY wanting to do the Leaf Alphabet activity I found at the Martha Stewart website but I'll going to wait until the leaves are pretty yellow, red, and orange instead of the crumbly brown ones I found. The website for the craft is at

1. Collect leaves, avoiding ones with any mold or rot. Lay leaves flat between phone-book pages or layers of newspaper, then weight them with something heavy. Allow one to two weeks to fully flatten and dry.

2. Arrange leaves on a page of heavy paper. Embellish leaves by cutting notches for parts like mouths, tails, and fins. From spare leaves, cut out details like eyes, wheels, hats, etc. Using leafs, make pictures of items that start with different letters of the alphabet. For example, for the letter F, you might make a leaf fish like the one pictured below.
3. Glue leaves into place with glue stick or white glue. Lay a clean sheet of paper on top of glued leaves and rub gently to smooth and flatten. Carefully remove the top sheet.

A great file folder leaf shape game can be found at . It is a free download! We haven't done this yet, but plan to this week. Also, in the next few days I plan on making some laminated learning cards like these:

We had great fun learning about leaves and hope you will too!

**Check back tomorrow for Fancy Friday, where we'll be featuring a GREAT boutique giveaway. We have several amazing giveaways in the next few weeks. We also of couse have some super fun learning coming up as well. Happy Fall!


teachingtinytots said...

wow what a fun day!

we are doing that tile activity today so i'll let you know how it goes!

you did tons and looks like she had tons of fun!

Peterson Party said...

Wow, you did a lot of leaf activities! Looks like so much fun! To answer your question, the mini cookie/pastry cutters were given to me by a friend. She bought them from Williams Sonoma. I tried looking on their website yesterday and couldn't find them, but that doesn't mean they don't have them, I could have been putting in the wrong search words. My set is a set of 6 fall themed cutters (leaves, apples, turkey, acorn, pumpkin). I did find these on there and they might work for what you want to do.
Also, I have seen mini cutters at craft stores like Michaels.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a week! You've collected and done such a diverse range of activities. Lots of fun! I think my daughter would like making the crown the best, and my son would enjoy crumbling up the leaves. Thanks for sharing.

Teaching Heart Mom said...

Lots of great fun ideas here. We are always looking for fun leaf activities this time of year. Also, thanks for putting Teaching Heart Mom in your blog roll!

Domestic Goddess said...

I love your blog and this wonderful idea of Leaf Learning Day. My 4y.o. is going to a Montessori school now. Prior to that, I sort of "homeschooled" him too and we did lots of activities and a somewhat similar "Learn about trees" activitiy but never to such depth. I will try this fun idea of yours on my 2 yo next week. Thanks!

Professional Mommy said...

The move has been hectic. There are a couple of people here I *think* I responded to but if I didn't know I responded to you in my mind and meant to email you back!