When I was pregnant, I had dreams reflecting my own childhood joy of kicking through leaves in welly boots with my child. Its funny how our appreciation for one of natures most generous gifts appeals to children and adults in such charming ways.
The variations in shapes, colours and patterns, the textures, sound under foot, the flutter as they fall from trees, and they way they completely change our landscapes, both in the trees and on the ground, throughout the seasons.
We have had so much fun with leaves so far, using them in numerous activities through this unit, but we’re not finished yet. I’m milking Autumn for every gentle nature walk it can offer when my health can permit it, and we are loving popping out with our basket, wrapped up warm, and collecting treasures to play with at home.
We have used leaves in their unpreserved state over and over in this past month, but the idea offered on Pinterest in regards to laminating them was too enticing, and as soon as I played with the idea, I was hooked, and couldn’t wait to experiment.
So here we go, 6 ways of incorporating laminated leaves into everyday Autumn themed Tot School.
Window Observation Point
As I brought them down fresh from the laminator to cut them out, they were immediately descended upon by one very curious Squirrel. They were out of my hands and being shuffled through and offered to daddy as if they were flash cards; it was love at first grab.
I decided that between using them for other activities, it would be great to have them in the window where Squirrel could reach them and explore them as the light shines through them. He can easily take them down, and hes even been putting them back up, bless him. Hes spent time tracing their veins as the light shines through them, naming their colours and generally just pointing out their presence and using his sign and new word “leee’s!” For some reason, these are just more exciting than the unpreserved ones sitting right there in his basket, now neglected.
I did try this with laminated leaves, but I found that the better result came from contact paper, but still felt it deserved a place in the collection of activities post. It is thinner, and pretty flimsy, but for its purpose it worked pretty well.
I doubled it over, sandwiching the leaves between the sides, and celotaped it to the top of Squirrels water table ‘desk’ in the kitchen, where it is now staying until the end of the Unit, with crayons and paper in reach.
This is an activity that he enjoys being assisted with, what with not quite having the hand control to rub over the same spot repeatedly, but he certainly grasped what we were doing, and connected that he was producing impressions of the leaves under the paper!
Fine Motor Threading
Its a simple concept that got him hooked! I simply chose on of the leaves and punched holes into the edges, and found a lovely, thin, strong but very flexible piece of root from the garden where Darren has pulled up an old tree stump.
I first showed him slowly how to thread it through, and encouraged him to hold an end, and let him go for it, occasionally helping him along where he needed an extra hand to hold the leaf while he concentrated on threading.
The most he has woven into was 2 holes at one time, and then feeling proud of that achievement, has just whipped it out again and merrily tried a new hole to start over with.
We were at it a long while, and will be bringing this activity out as a busy box task too, for when I need to buy 5 minutes from him to do something with him not upon my person, but I suspect that that is where he would most like to be.
It was always going to happen. It just was.
We had lots of fun squishing the leaves into it, or squishing the playdough over the leaves, and peeling it back to trace our finger tips along the vein imprints left on the body of the dough.
We used them like little mats too, and rolled bits onto them as a surface, but mostly, we liked standing the leave up in it.
We used coloured miniature pegs and duplo bricks with the leaves for this task, and Squirrel knew which direction we were heading right from the moment I placed them on his table.
I started by arranging the correlating pegs on the leaves ready, as a suggestion to the colour focus as the topic of the task.
I then handed him the bricks and we practiced words and identification of the colours as he had fun arranging them, them grouping them into the pegs, bricks and leaves again, and starting over again!
We are not quite at a point where his fingertips are strong enough for these little pegs, but he was quite content to place them on top rather than get frustrated with trying to pin them on. This week has been fantastic for colour recognition!
He can now say, identify and match red, brown and green, adding to his previous love of yellow which he picked up on earlier in the unit while working on corn.
Template Chalk Art
A piece of paper and a small dib of blutac to attach the leaf with, and we are away for a small project using obstacles for effects in art, which also relates to visual consistency points in development. Oooh!
I started the green layer to show him, and held his hands as he held the chalk, to get the flow and the pressure familiar for him, then we both had a little go with the orange until he was a little more confident.
Confident in handling the chalk, he was. On board with the task, as it turn out, not so much, but we had a little go before his attention wondered to the idea of snacks and his musical farmyard book. I had offered him a lot of activities today, so there is a good chance that I overloaded him, so we will give this another shot, another day.
Still, later on, I handed it to him again, and he played for a very short while at replacing the leaf back where it was, then away again, and back again, which is pretty neat, if you ask me, for recall and puzzle type of thinking!
I agree, Squirrel, I think its pretty too!
So go laminate some fresh, dry leaves! They’re pretty brilliant and versatile as an activity tool. They don’t curl up, they don’t change colour, and look so whimsical displayed in a window!
This post is for Unit 2. Autumn & Harvest.