Beautiful autumn leaves collagePosted: 17/10/2013
We have been enjoying some gorgeous autumn days over the last couple of weeks, which have been inspiring us to get out of the house and into the fresh air while we can. There have been lots of trips to the park as well as lovely woodland explorations as part of our weekly forest school session. ToddlerGirl has fully entered into the spirit of the season, helping me to collect all sorts of autumnal objects on our outings. We are so efficient that I have been coming home with pocketfuls of conkers, acorns and seeds, as well as handfuls of sticks and leaves!
I’d like to lay these out together as a nature exploration for ToddlerGirl at some point but decided that we could have some fun first with a simple craft activity using the beautiful autumn leaves we have found.
One afternoon last week, with an hour or so to fill before tea time, I set up an invitation for ToddlerGirl to create a leaf collage. This was an absolute doddle to do:
- A bucketful of leaves of different shapes, sizes and colours
- A square of sticky transparent film taped onto our patio windows
- One hugely interested ToddlerGirl!
She was enthusiastic about this before we even got started and immediately grasped what we were doing, so I sat back and let her get stuck in. She carefully selected the first leaf and placed it on the sticky window. As she worked, I talked a little about the different colours of the leaves and commented on how they looked when stuck onto the window. As tempting as it is to interfere sometimes – ooh, that big leaf would work so much better placed diagonally over there…! – I try very hard whenever ToddlerGirl is doing an art or craft activity to let her lead. I occasionally ask questions about what she is doing to help the activity along but I am conscious that it is her artwork, not mine! So, when the collage area started to fill up a bit, I did start to say things like “Hmm, what space do you think that leaf will fit in?” or “This is quite a small space here, is there a leaf that will fit do you think?” to guide her a little. But I left her to it if the leaves overlapped or hung off the edge. Actually, not many did as she treated the project very seriously and tried to fill all the little spaces, even if it was with broken parts of leaves!
The sunshine was streaming through the window, which was an added bonus as it really made the leaves glow. Very soon, the collage was looking beautiful and we stopped to admire the different colours. I talked a little bit about how the light was shining through; we looked at a lovely green and yellow leaf in our hands and then held it up to the light to see what difference that made to its appearance, and I pointed out the way this made the skeleton of the leaves stand out.
We had a couple of seeds to add to the smaller spaces. I don’t know what trees these came from but they are like a half version of the helicopter seeds. Actually, I couldn’t really identify any of the leaves either, other than those from the oak trees. I realised that this was information I used to know as a child and have somehow lost over the years. I shall therefore be hunting down some kind of tree book for children that ToddlerGirl and I can use this year and for hopefully years to come to learn more about identifying trees from their leaves and seeds, and about their life cycles.
The seeds worked well on the sticky window but we discovered that the spiky conker cases were too heavy to stay up. There were so many different things to talk about while ToddlerGirl made her collage, I found it to be a brilliant learning activity as well as a creative one.
When pretty much all of the sticky film had been covered, I removed it from the window and added another layer of sticky film over the top. It was good timing as ToddlerGirl was just beginning to loose interest in the activity, starting to play with the left over leaves and a couple of twigs. With our collage sealed, I debated whether to do anything further with it. I was thinking we could make some sort of frame and then hang it on string; maybe cut out some different shapes or even a leaf shape… In the end, I decided to leave it alone. If ToddlerGirl was a bit older and interested in doing something else with it, I think that would have been a great extension to the activity, though.
I hung the sealed collage back on our window but higher up to stop little fingers tearing it down. It really looks quite beautiful. We have had a lot of sunshine, which lights up the leaves wonderfully. We all enjoy looking at this at mealtimes and ToddlerGirl will comment on it: “Look at my leaves! Look at the sunshine!”.
The other day, we had the curtains drawn for some reason and I realised that the collage was casting a brilliant shadow with the sun behind it. Before I had a chance to point it out, ToddlerGirl suddenly noticed that there was a pattern appearing on our plain curtains and jumped off the sofa to go and investigate! She was fascinated, peering behind the curtain to look at the collage and then back at the shadow. We talked in very simple terms about what was causing the effect which she seemed to understand, as we have looked at shadows previously in the park.
This was such a ridiculously easy activity to set up and do, yet we have got a lot of fun and interest out of it. ToddlerGirl is very proud of her collage and so am I; I think it looks gorgeous on our window with the autumn sunshine behind it and will be quite sad when I come to take it down!