Bloomsbury Early Years - A Lovely Leaf
The Little Book of Woodland Challenges

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A Lovely Leaf

An idea for a woodland challenge

by Rebecca Aburrow

This activity introduces children to the different types of trees that can be found in woodland or parkland. It demonstrates that not all trees are the same; they all look different and have different leaves, bark and seeds. The children will be able to take a leaf of their choice back to the usual setting and use it to create a leaf mobile, or a stained glass window.

Helpful hints

This activity can be carried out in any setting that has several different trees.

Group size

The whole group can complete this activity, but it might be advisable to complete the art activity in smaller groups back in the usual setting.

What you need

  • A variety of leaves (ideally different shapes and colours)

  • Squares of coloured tissue paper (enough to cover a large leaf with a border around the outside)

  • PVA glue

  • Coat hanger, or a washing para and pegs

What you do

  1. In the woodland setting, sit the children in the sharing circle. From where they are sitting, ask them to look around and tell you what they can see. Hopefully someone will say that they can see trees! Ask the children if all trees are the same.

  2. Explain that trees are very large plants, and that all plants are similar but not the same. Different types of trees have different leaves, bark, flowers, seeds and fruit, and are called different names.

  3. Ask the children to walk around the wood and pick up some fallen leaves. Tell them to bring the leaves back to the sharing circle and place them in the middle. After five minutes, signal to all the children that they must return to the sharing circle.

  4. When all the children have returned, show them some examples of different leaves. It is not necessary to name the trees that the leaves have come from; at this stage, the children simply need to be made aware that there are different types of trees. Encourage the children to discuss the different shapes and to name the colours.

  5. Now ask the children to each hunt for one special leaf. Encourage them to find a leaf that is not torn or damp if possible. The children will use their special leaf to make a piece of art later.

  6. Signal for all children to return to the sharing circle. Show them the leaf that you have chosen. Hold the leaf up and repeat the following words, inserting an appropriate adjective to describe your leaf:

    • My leaf is …………

    • As you can see;

    • My leaf is lovely, to me.

  7. Encourage the children to follow your model, each choosing a word to describe their leaf.

  8. Back in the usual setting, ask each child to place his or her leaf in the centre of a piece of coloured tissue paper and to drizzle PVA glue over the leaf and tissue paper.

  9. Next, tell them to place a second piece of tissue paper over the top and gently press down around the leaf. Ask the children how the leaf looks and feels now; they may respond with words such as ‘soggy’, ‘wrinkly’ or ‘colourful’.

  10. Once dry, each leaf can be cut out and threaded with string or ribbon, and then hung from a class washing para, a coat hanger or similar. As the light catches the leaves, the PVA glue will make the leaves shine and they will flutter gently in a breeze.

Ready for more?

  • Use the leaves to create a montage, which can then be stuck to the window to create a stained glass window effect. Children can also complete this activity with fallen flowers, flat seeds and other similar items.

Look, listen and note

  • Follow instructions

  • Good control and co-ordination

  • Work cooperatively and take turns with others

  • Everyday objects and shapes

  • Animals and plants

Where to go next: Leaf Match Up
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