Autumn Leaf Activities
Enjoy those falling leaves this year with your young ones.
After a pretty grey summer it feels like autumn is coming too early this year! Having said that, there is nothing dismal about the beautiful colours this time of year brings.
Today, I wanted to share some of our favourite leaf activities with you. This is the perfect time of year to collect a variety of leaves as they begin to fall off the trees. Enjoy your nature walk on a dry day and keep an eye out for leaves on the ground to collect.
Deciduous Or Evergreen?
Just going for a walk and observing which trees change colour is an activity in itself and children can identify which trees are deciduous and which are evergreen. Deciduous trees shed their leaves during specific seasons and at particular times of growth whereas evergreens keep their green foliage year round.
But why do the leaves of decidious trees change colour? Leaves contain a green pigment called chlorophyll. In the spring and summer, when there is plenty of sunlight the chlorophyyll turns the leaves green. In autumn, when the weather is colder and there is less sunlight, the chlophyll begins to fade and the other colours inside the leaf can show through. The leaves can turn beautiful shades of reds, oranges, yellows and browns.
These activities are particularly good for younger children as they use leaves to develop their art techniques, exploring the use of different materials and experimenting with shape, colour and size. They can also begin to identify the structure of the leaves, noticing the veins, stem and edges.
- Leaf Printing - using a paintbrush, cover the leaf in paint, turn the leaf over onto the paper and push the leaf firmly down. Next your child can carefully peel the leaf off to reveal the print beneath. Your child can use the same leaf over and over and the prints can overlap.
- Leaf Rubbings – place the leaf beneath the paper and use the side of either a wax crayon or chalk to rub over the leaf.
- Drawing Leaves – here your child can use their observation skills to look at the leaf and draw what they see. When Harry was younger, he used to draw around the leaf which helped him to gage the shape and size. Now he continues to develop his drawing skills using his observations.
Harry and I both collect leaves and press them. Harry has his own collection of pressed leaves and flowers which he keeps in a photo album. This has been a great way to nurture his interest in nature as he continues to pick up different nature items he finds whilst we are out.
I press leaves because…well you just never know when you might need one!
Pressing leaves is really simple. Place the leaves you have found between two sheets of wax paper, water colour paper or even kitchen towels. (I used to place the leaves directly into books, however, this has previously damaged some pages when the leaves were possibly too damp.) Place your leaf inside the pages of a heavy book and close the book. Place more heavy books on top and leave for at least a week. When you are ready to reveal the leaf, slowly remove the top layer of paper. Some leaves can be very delicate and you may want to use tweezers.
Gold And Silver Leaves
Some of the leaves we like for their shape and we paint them gold and silver. I recommend using acrylic paint for this, the effect can be stunning. Once the painted leaves are dry, here are a few ways you can use them:
- Greeting Cards – gold and silver leaves can make the most beautiful greeting cards. Glue the leaves on to coloured card and send them to your friends and family.
- Seasonal Decorations – the painted leaves can be very delicate but can be used to make seasonal decorations. Using a needle and thread, carefully sew the leaves together.
One lovely activity to do with pressed leaves is to create a nature collage. This may be an abstract collection of your child’s favourite leaves and other nature items such as seeds, or, your child can use the shapes of the leaves to make a picture like a hedgehog or an owl. Use wobbly eyes to bring the picture to life.
TIP: When gluing a pressed leaf, use a paintbrush to cover the leaf in PVA glue. This makes it easier to reach the delicate tips of the leaf and stops the edges from curling up. Turn the leaf over and firmly push it onto the paper.
Leaf Mould Activity
For those who love sensory materials and playing with clay, this is a great activity and children can identify not only the structure of the leaf but are also able to explore their different textures.
Roll a lump of clay large enough for the entire leaf to fit on top. Place the leaf on top and use the palm of your hand to push the leaf into the clay. Carefully peel the leaf off to reveal its shape beneath. Once the clay has hardened, your child can paint the imprint they have made.
To make this into a decoration, use a straw to make a hole in the clay before it has hardened. Then use string to hang up the mould.
Enjoy collecting your autumn leaves and trying out exploring different ways to use them. Here are some of our hands-on topics focusing on the nature around us.