One of the dad-tivities I’m most looking forward to with our kids is getting outside and exploring nature. I regularly try out some of these ideas with my Doodlebug Club kids, who are exceptionally willing little guinea pigs! This week, we went on a leaf hunt to enjoy the leaves that are making the North Carolina mountains such a colorful place. Then we used the leaves we found for two different art projects.
We headed outside for our leaf hunt the very first thing. The kids had no idea, but the wonderful spot of ground we found covered by all different shapes, sizes and colors of leaves was a little pre-meditated. (sidenote: the museum’s in small town, just off Main Street, but connected to the building is a popular free parking deck, so rather than dodge traffic with wee ones, we just went to a close patch of grass where I’d “planted” leaves from my own leaf hunt this morning. It worked out fine J) As we gathered leaves, we talked about their colors and shapes and sought out pointy leaves and the biggest leaves. There were some sassafras leaves that were some real whoppers!
Back inside, we spent some time making a leaf crown, picking out the very best leaves in different colors, and choosing one or two big leaves for the front. After some experimentation with glue when I was planning the project, I found simply stapling the leaves to a strip of construction paper (sized for each individual kid noggin, in sections if necessary, as a regular 8.5 x 11 sheet isn’t long enough) worked best. The little ones (less than 2 years old) weren’t too taken by their crowns, but the big kid (4 years old, or thereabouts) thought it was super fun. The crown is a little hard to see in this photo, but it looks pretty fun on your head.
Next, we picked out some of our pointiest leaves to be the spikes on a hedgehog cutout. I found this hedgehog-leaf project on Pinterest that was originally from a Bulgarian (?!) kids’ art website. I printed the hedgehog design on cardstock and cut them out. Each artist glued their hedgehog to a piece of construction paper, colored the hedgehog’s face with crayons, and glued on spikes for the leaves. Our big kid added leaves for feet and hair as well – he really got into it. I had several cutouts for each artist, so they could try out several different looks for their hedgehogs. This one was mine–
After the two leaf art projects, we read a couple of books (I couldn’t decide which I liked best, and they were short, so…) The first, When the Leaf Blew In, by Steve Metzger, is a silly tale about the series of calamities that transpire because a leaf blows into a barnyard. It’s a domino-effect kind of book and is pretty funny in a preschooler sort-of-way. Below is an excerpt at the beginning, when the leaf first blows into the barn, making the cow sneeze. I didn’t know cows could sneeze – but that illustration is pretty funny.
We also read The Little Yellow Leaf, by Carin Berger, which was probably a little over their heads (in retrospect). It’s about a little yellow oak leaf who really, really isn’t ready to let go of its branch in autumn, even though all of its friends have. It hangs on through the first snow, waiting.
Finally, after many weeks, it spots another leaf, this one a red oak leaf, who also does not want to fall. They decide to fall together. The artwork is very different, elegant, even – probably a little grown-uppy – but it’s a nice little quiet story.
This project was a fun, easy, clean, and cheap one (4 big positives in any kid caregiver’s book, right?!) – not to mention how was it nice to get outside on such a pretty day! We’re looking forward to going on many leaf hunts with our kids some day – definitely adding this one to the dad-tivities list!
What is Doodlebug Club?
I work at an art and history museum, and one of the best parts of my job is working with kids. I teach a weekly preschool art class called Doodlebug Club, where I get to try out all sorts of ideas that will become some of the fun things that we will do with our Littlest Brooks-Livingston. I’ve never had any real art training, but I think it’s a lot of fun, and to me, it’s very important to make art more approachable than it ever seemed when I was a kid.If you’d like to read about more of the projects we’ve done in Doodlebug Club, click here. Check out my Doodlebug Club Pinterest board here.