Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Little Re-Leaf!

I have never met a kid who didn't love playing in the leaves.  I still love it for that matter.  As you know, there is just something fascinating about jumping in, crunching up, throwing, and gathering leaves. 

Because of this, I have been wanting to do to a leaf project with the kids all fall.  I was looking for a good leaf book to extend the learning and play and I knew Lois Ehlert would be the author to help me out...  

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
Her books are always intriguing.  They often use materials from nature to create the pictures, or many of the books include intricate paper cut creations.  Leaf Man, as you may have guessed, is filled with leaf creatures.  Very cool!  It's fun to see if the kiddos will be able to spot what type of animals or vegetation leaf man is passing over as you read the book.  

And, of course we wanted to have a little Leaf Man fun of our own. So...

First- We had a great time at the park gathering leaves.  We looked for as many different shapes, sizes and colors as we could find.  The kids were especially in love with the HUGE leaves they found.  We also grabbed some grasses and twigs (and we dodged a lot of deer droppings, we could have been doing this activity instead of the leaf gathering.)

I set everything up on the table and away they went. 
Two tips here though:

1- If you are using real leaves, you want to do the project the same day you collect them or they will get dry and brittle, making them very hard to glue. (Faux leaves from Michael's or something would work great too, you just won't get the same feeling on an outing to Michael's as you will to the park, obviously-- oh, and the real ones are much cheaper.)

2- Preschool glue secret here!! Just take and old milk lid, or baby food lid and squirt a little glue in there.  Then, give the kids a small paintbrush which they can use to apply the glue.  It saves on the mess and helps them refine small motor skills.  (PS, keep these brushes for glue use next time so you don't gunk up all your paintbrushes.)

My 18 month old thinks she is one of the big kids so I let her in on the project too, in a modified way.  
If you've got someone like this at home here are two things we did:

1- I  gave her a brush and a small cup of water. That allowed her to do just what her sisters were doing, but without any chance of gluey clothes, hair, or dog (who tends to stand under her chair waiting for her to drop things). 

2- After the other girls were going strong, I sat right by her and put some glue on a leaf then let her place it and pat it down on the page.  She liked sticking a re-sticking them, and of course what toddler doesn't love pounding stuff with their little hands? 

The leaves really don't need much glue, but you do need to press them down well. 
Below is one of the big leaves as a turtle body.  I personally love the legs and the layered leaf shell is a nice touch too.

  I also put beans out (we didn't gather anything like acorns or small pinecones) to use a eyes, so I thought beans were a nice option.  
The "little in the middle" (as I sometimes call her) was a sort of bean happy....

 Happy reading and happy leafing!
(Yes, I like to make up my own verbs sometimes.)
I hope you can do this activity before all the leaves are covered with snow!

This post is linked to the Lois Ehlert Virtual Book Club and the Autumn Blog Hop