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This past weekend, we went overboard in our big run-up to Thanksgiving. First, we made a charming leaf mobile. We found this craft in a homeschooling enrichment guide published by Little Acorn Learning. Here, we are getting started by painting the base material that will later be cut into leaf shapes.

Painting the Leaves

Painting the Leaves


After a vigorous painting session, the pre-leaves are left out to dry on a trash bag. Couldn’t risk painting the table as well!
Drying the Leaves

Drying the Leaves


Here’s the leaves all cut out and hung up mobile style from two branches mounted on an overhead light.
Finished Leaves

Finished Leaves


After the fact, we realized that we had too many leaves for the mobile. We could have made it significantly more impressive, but I was losing steam by this point. Consequently, I decided to take a few of the more darker, redder leaves and make hang them from a “thankfulness tree.” The “thankfulness tree” is an upcoming Thanksgiving Project. I intended for my son to hang little cards on the three that listed things for which he is thankful. That will still take place. However, the tree will be a little more jazzy in appearance than originally planned.
Thankfulness Tree

Thankfulness Tree

At some point, I got the idea to create a tree wall mural. It started as pieces of paper bag cut out in various shapes and taped to the wall. Later, it would take on a series of multi-colored apples and a resident owl. It’s not quite what I had envisioned. It’s really quite awful. However, it has taken on its own charm. Over the course of the coming weeks, it will be surrounding by pumpkins. The apples may fall off at some point, and it may become surrounded by snowflakes. My son thinks it’s amazing.

Paper Bag Tree

Paper Bag Tree

Owl At Home

Owl At Home

As I had stated earlier, we are spending a month focusing all of our attention on learning about leaves and trees. To ensure that the knowledge learned during this month persists, we have designed and made an educational game based on William Joyce’s book The Leaf Men. The Leaf Men is about an elderly woman who tends a garden until such time that she becomes ill. Her illness brings about the near demise of her beautiful flower garden. Neighborhood children and insects who love the garden fret over its state, and ultimately the insects go on a quest to save it. In the process, they enlist the help of a mysterious lost toy.

Our game consists of a board game with an enormous number of colored squares that make up the ailing woman’s quilt. We need a lot of spaces to allow for the enormous number of leaf and tree related questions that we are trying to fit in. Game play proceeds when a player rolls a color coded die. The player moves to the colored space indicated by the die. Alternatively, he encounters the “lose a turn” spider or a rose that allows him to reach into a bag and pull out a leaf shaped token. Back to the tokens in a minute.

Whenever a person moves to a space, he will take a card and answer a question about leaves or trees. If he’s right, he can take a token from the bag. If the token has the lost toy on it, he automatically wins the game. Otherwise, the first person to traverse the quilt to the old lady wins.

The Leaf Men Book & Game

The Leaf Men Book & Game


Our Leaf Men Board

Our Leaf Men Board


Leaf Men Playing Pieces & Die

Leaf Men Playing Pieces & Die


Leaf Men Question Cards

Leaf Men Question Cards


Lost Toy Token

Lost Toy Token

A dear friend surprised us with a wonderful gift. She gave us a copy of Jenepher Lingelbach’s Hands-On Nature. Hands-On Nature is filled with activities for exploring everything from spiderwebs to snowflakes to bees to feathers to rotting logs. Each subject is introduced with an information section. The information section is text based and definitely geared for older, school aged children. I’d say the appropriate age range is 9 or above. Then, a series of activities follows. Usually, the activities are usually 5 in number and are hands-on and suitable for a wide age range. I love this book! We are currently working on a section on Rotting Logs. We took out our playmat and some wooden figures to enact a simple play about cholorophyll.

Hands-On Nature

Hands-On Nature


Enacting a Nature Play

Enacting a Nature Play

Here’s some homemade leaf identification cards. The cards that have a black background were created using pressed leaves. The other cards contain paintings of leaves.

Leaf Identification Cards

Leaf Identification Cards

Here’s some sample art work that my son made using Morteza Sohi’s book Look What I Did with a Leaf for guidance:

Leaf Art: Mouse

Leaf Art: Mouse


Leaf Art: Bat

Leaf Art: Bat

We just put the finishing touches on our September Focus Table. The theme is leaves and trees, so we’ve been working hard to find things that fit the category. We started off with some leaf print paintings that my son had done while visiting a children’s art class that was focused around a general nature theme. My son produced a large volume of drawings, paintings, and sculptural objects from the three hour class, and we put them aside just for this month. The rest of the work is displayed proudly on our fridge. Next, we added in a Montessori activity from Parts of Wonder on etsy, and some wooden toys from woodmouse and Rjabinnik. These two vendors also sell to the Waldor community from their respective stores on the etsy site. We’re displaying a large number of leaf and tree themed books primarily relating to changes observable throughout the fall season. We also have our own, handmade leaf identification cards. Throughout the month, we will be adding more of our own handmade crafts to the Focus area. We will be using Look What I Did with a Leaf to create a variety of animal art out of leaves. We will be also working on various crafts that we find detailed on various blog and websites.

Focus Table: Leaves & Trees

Focus Table: Leaves & Trees

Parts of Wonder produces wonderful activities designed for the Montessori community. This particular activity here consists of a laminated drawing of a leaf with labeled parts. This master can be used for a variety of activities. Children can look at the master and try and pair another set of laminated labels with an unlabeled master. This teaches word identification/matching along with familiarity of the parts that make up a leaf. There is also an unlaminated, uncolored picture of a leaf and sheet of labels. Those can be copied so that children can cut up the labels and glue them to pictures of the leaf. Descriptions of the various functions of individual parts of the leaf are also included.

Since the leaf activity is a little more advanced that the mushroom activity that we purchased from the same vendor, I brought in actual leaves so that we could compare real leaves with the drawing.

Montessori Leaf Activity from Parts of Wonder

Montessori Leaf Activity from Parts of Wonder

We were able to find a lot of resources related to leaves on the etsy.com website. This was not the case with leaves and trees. So far, we have a Montessori “parts of leaf” identification kit from Parts of Wonder, and we have tons of books. One book is a great craft book that we’ll be making much use of throughout the month. Virtually every page shows an animal that kids can make using common leaves that can be found this time of year.

September Workspace (Leaves)

September Workspace (Leaves)

Craft Books
Look What I Did with A Leaf

Picture Books
A Simple Brown Leaf
A Tree Can Be…
Fletcher and the Falling Leaves
Leaves
Leaves! Leaves! Leaves!
Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf
The Dead Tree
The Fall of Freddie the Leaf
The Leaf Man
The Leaf Men
The Little Yellow Leaf

Non-Fiction
Leaves
Why Do Leaves Change Color?