In September, at least in the northern part of the world, the season of fall begins. Leaves on the trees and bushes and even the weeds, may begin to change colour. This is a perfect time to take your child for a walk around your neighbourhood, and/or to go to a park to collect leaves of all sizes, shapes and colours. These leaves can be used for many different types of activities – math, language, and art to name a few. Try to get an assortment of sizes and colours if possible. You might even be able to get some leaves from your garden if you still have any plants left in it. Have fun on the walk, and you could talk about reasons why the leaves change (see below for that information), while you are collecting them.
Why leaves change colour
The green colour of leaves hides the other colors in the leaf. Leaves get less light each day in the fall and stop making food, so they can prepare for the winter. The green color fades and other colors (mainly red/yellow/orange/tan) in the leaves begin to show. This is a very simple explanation but basically gives the important information.
Math/Language Activity – Sorting Leaves by Size
Note: you could also sort by shape – round, long, those with jagged edges, etc.
Materials needed: leaves, crayons or paint, glue (a gluestick will work well with “fresh” leaves, a bottle of liquid glue for drier leaves)
1. Put down a large piece of paper, possibly a full sheet of a newspaper, and dump all your leaves on it.
2. Take a large piece of plain paper and let your child draw a line down the middle (from one long side to the other) dividing the sheet in half.
3. Write “smaller” at the top of the paper on one side and “bigger” on the top of the paper on the other side.
4. Looking through the leaves you’ve collected pick a leaf that is medium sized. Glue it to the top of the paper on the line in the middle.
5. Have the child take one leaf at a time from their collection. Have them guess whether they think if will be smaller or bigger that the leaf in the middle. Then let them hold their leaf by the medium sized leaf to compare.
6. Have the child place the leaf on the paper under the correct word describing their leaf. They can just lay it there or glue it on.
7. Let the child do this with the other leaves. As you do this, you can use other words to describe their size: little, tiny, big, huge, large, etc.
8. You will need to either save some of the leaves for the other leaf activities or go on another walk to collect more.
Math Activity/Language – Sorting Leaves by Colour
Materials needed: leaves of different colours, glue (gluestick or liquid glue), large sheet of paper,
- On a large sheet of paper, have the child sort the leaves by colour. If you start with red in one corner with yellow beside it, leaves that are sort of both colours and/or kind of orange can go between them. Brown could be next. Then on the bottom of the page put green under the red with leaves that are yellow/green beside them. It will look a little like a rainbow when you’re done.
Art Activity – leaf collages
Materials – leaves of different colours, sizes and shapes, paper, glue, crayons or paint if desired
Let your child make pictures with the leaves. Depending on the age and agility of the child, they could use them to create shapes, like people, or they can just make a collage of gluing the leaves on the page how they like. If they desire they could use crayons to add to their picture. They could also use other natural items, like twigs, small rocks, etc. in their pictures.