Tis the season for leaves! With fall in full swing and the approach of Halloween, the foliage provides a great opportunity for a range of creative projects to bring inside the home and classroom. Go outside on an adventure and have your children collect leaves to their heart’s desire. The more colors the better! Once your canvas is set, step back indoors for 10 ways to learn with leaves:
1. Create an Autumn Nature Exploration Table
Don’t stop with leaves! Collect pinecones, acorns, sticks, pine needles and more to put in baskets for nature table explorations! By including natural objects, children will be introduced to the feels, sights, and smells of the season. Sort colors, discuss how seeds grow into trees, or use leaves to make cutouts to develop gross motor skills! There’s no end to sensory explorations when you bring nature inside to be appreciated by little minds.
The autumn treasures your children collect outside are the perfect material for creative games and crafts! The book Organic Crafts offers 75 earth-friendly art activities that turn natural objects into games, crafts and activities children will love! Children will learn everything from color identification to creative self-expression. Find your own nature crafts here:
3. Hang Leaves on the Grateful Tree
Teach children the value of gratitude by encouraging them to take a moment and list the things they’re grateful for in their lives. Once they have a few words in mind, practice early literacy skills by decorating each leaf with one of the words using a paint pin. Find out how you can make painted leaves here: http://playfullearning.net/2009/11/this-years-grateful-tree/
4. Move Around with Spiral Leaves
Get kids outside and exercising while making fun leaf patterns! By walking around and making paths through fallen leaves, children can create yard designs through active play and creative instruction. Change up the pattern for even more fun! http://happyhooligans.ca/in-our-big-back-yard/
5. Crumble Leaves for Autumn Trees Craft
Crumble leaves with your children as they use their sense of touch to explore the texture of trees! Make a creative autumn tree from real leaves and a little imagination. This is a great activity for sensory learning.
6. Create an Alphabet Leaf Hunt
Write individual letters on leaves and hang them around the backyard with clothespins! Encourage your child to match up capitalized and lower case letters. Have kids read the letter out and make the letter sound after finding each leaf. Kids will be excited about learning the alphabet in no time!
7. Rake up Leaves for Dramatic Play
Encourage the development of gross motor skills and engage in dramatic play by having little ones read “Eye Like Nature – Leaves” and then throwing leaves in the air! Use plastic rakes for children to rake leaves back up again into baskets.
8. Parachute Play with Leaves
Engage in active play and parachute fun by piling up leaves onto the parachute and then singing along to “Pop, Pop, Popcorn!” When you say popcorn, have kids jump up and send leaves flying into the air! Children will engage in active play and work together to coordinate parachute movements.
9. Understand Why Leaves Change Color
Have your kids hypothesize about why leaves change color and what color they will turn as a part of their very own backyard science experiment. Explaining leaf chromatography and allowing children to see colors change right in front of their eyes is a great way to bring science to life through learning with leaves! Find out how to run the experiment here:
10. Get Artsy with a Nature Canvas
Involve your little one in hands-on exploration as they make Autumn Art from leaves! Little ones can collect treasures from the backyard and glue them atop a nature canvas painted with beautiful reds, yellows, and browns for fall delight! The result is a natural landscape with real leaves you’ll want to hang on the wall when finished.
-We hope you enjoyed these activities! Are you in an area where there are no leaves? Use leaf kits to explore beautiful, printed leaves together with your children as they work on sorting and color recognition. Explore our different leaf kits here: