Sunday, October 13, 2013

Little leaves fall gently down....

"Little leaves fall gently down,
Red and yellow, orange and brown,
Whirling, whirling, round and round,
Quietly without a sound,
Falling softly to the ground,
Down and down, down and down."

Our second unit this fall involved the falling leaves, acorns, and identifying trees.  Between a week of colds and a few other adjustments, we didn't do as many of the activities as I originally planned.  But we did spend a lot of time collecting the colorful leaves that have started to fall in Western Virginia and talking about the different types of trees. 

We also collected a bucket or two of acorns.  We noticed most of the trees didn't produce many (or any) acorns this year.  Wondering why, I did a little research and we learned that oak trees have a two or four year cycle - so there is typically a "boom" year with a large amount of acorns produced, followed by one or three "bust" years with little to no acorns.  It took some searching, but we were able to find two oak trees that were having a "boom" year.  We intended to make a wreath with the acorns, but just haven't gotten around to it yet. 

We pressed our favorite leaves for about a week in a heavy book and then tried to make these lanterns with them.  Our leaves didn't want to stick to the jars very well at all, but a few of the thinner ones did. 
We don't have any field guides to trees, so I found these basic leaf identification pages online and printed each kid a set.  We have been able to find most of these trees and I like that it's not a whole book filled with various trees.  At the kids' current ages I think it's best to keep it simple.

One week we did wet-on-wet watercolor paintings with red and yellow - resulting in a lot of orange.  After they were dry, I drew a basic leaf shape on the back of the paper and let the kids cut out a bunch.  I also cut out a few more complicated maple leaves.  We collected a few sticks from the yard and made this mobile for the hallway.

Pardon the poor photograph quality, but another craft we did with our pressed leaves was create window cling trees.  I cut out a trunk from brown construction paper and stuck it to contact paper.  I let the kids select the leaves they wanted to use to make the leafy part of the tree.  They didn't really get that they should arrange the leaves in the branch area of the trees, but had a good time sticking them all over the contact paper.  I put them in our kitchen window to block some of the dark and dirty window well view.
Next up is the unit we are all most excited about - pumpkins!