Pick me up! Play with me!

At this time of the year, I imagined all the leaves on the ground yelling” Pick me up! Play with me!”

photo 1-7Chances are, when you and your kids go outside, a collection of stones, sticks and leaves comes home with you. Outdoor experiences give us and our kids the opportunity to explore,to think and to feel. We get an emotional connection when we interact with nature. We develop our own understandings of who we are and how we work within the world.

leafprint2For kids 2-6 years old, leaf prints are always fun to do. Here’s a link that shows you how to do that, step by step with your kids. If you haven’t discovered an online blogger called B-Inspired Mama,she posts tons of arts and crafts ideas for this age group so that kids learn through play and hands- on projects.

Look what else you can do with leaves!

photo 2-7 For kids 7-12 years old, take collecting leaves a step further and challenge their attention to details. Collect the leaves with the purpose in mind of using them to create an animal mosaic. Your outdoor trek turns into an art AND a science project.(Sohi). You will develop your kids vocabulary,fine motor skills, body of content knowledge, artist’s eye, an ecological ethic and the joy of connecting with nature’s marvels,through play.

First, take your kids to the library to find books and magazine with lots of animal pictures.
Here are 3 tips to develop a unique art and crafts project using leaves with your kids.

TIPS

1. Develop Vocabulary
Help kids look for leaves of different sizes, shapes and colors and develop new vocabularies like: -star-shaped, heart shaped, fan shaped, long, narrow and needle shaped, saw-toothed, lobe like or oval. Challenge your kids imagination.

2. Train their Eyes
Encourage the kids to look for tiny leaves that could be used for eyes, beaks, paws, tails or a nose. Collect material that could be used to suggest a setting for their animal.

3. Include science.
Explain the life cycle of leaf and the production of chlorophyll that results in the leaf’s green color.

4. Keep it Real!
Turn the kids work into something of value and share it. Turn their art work into a stationary card and send it off to a friend,cousin, grandma or grandad.They are sure to love it.

Resources:
Rivkin, M., & Schein, D. (2014). The great outdoors: Advocating for natural spaces for young children (Rev. ed.). Washington, DC:
National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Sohi, M. (1993). Look What I Did with A Leaf! New York: Walker and Company.

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