Creativity & Learning with Autumn Leaves!
With the end of summer comes back-to-school season, a time when notebooks, crayons, and homework planners can take over the place that flowers, tall grass, and vegetable gardens hold in our daily routines during the summer. As lush green plants change hues, it can be easy to let the change of seasons happen without engaging with the new exterior design that Mother Nature provides. The change of colors and landscape is, though, the perfect reason not to let early fall pass by unnoticed…
Spending time outside while the seasons change can help children learn to be aware of the many different things around them that are in transition. Becoming aware of the things that are affected by the seasons can help children deepen their connection to their surroundings. As they watch nature change, they may notice their own habits changing according to the shorter days and cooler temperatures.
Especially young students – those who may not have yet developed a strong sense of their surroundings – can be brought closer to nature in the fall by doing projects and investigations that involve leaves. Leaf collecting can alert children to the presence of many types of trees in their neighborhood, and provides them with some beautiful and all-natural materials with which to craft and create nature art! Some fun (and low maintenance) possibilities for leaf art include sun catchers, herbariums, prints, rubbings, and more! Try creating some images of favorite storybook characters to create your own version of a beloved tale!
Leaf collecting also provides opportunity for some math, science, and social studies learning, too! If you collect regularly, chart the number of leaves of particular colors and types that you collect and work on building graphing and chart reading skills together. If you find some green leaves early in fall, try an experiment to help kids understand what chlorophyll is and what it does for plants. Or, create a field guide to your own back yard and catalog the species of trees that the leaves you collect have fallen from! The Appalachian Mountain Club’s Great Kids, Great Outdoors blog provides a great list of leaf-related educational projects, too. Be sure to hold onto whatever you create until next year – perhaps date your projects, and see if the seasons change at the same date and rate next fall!
[Photo credit: (ccl) Mary Beth]