The changing colors of leaves this time of year allow children to learn and explore the natural beauty. Sometimes using nature to inspire a lesson is a way to get children to talk about their environment and be creative at the same time. When they are actively engaged, they often forget that they are working on speech and language goals that you can incorporate into the lesson.
Begin with a Book
The book Leaf Man by Lois Echlert includes die-cut pages that include illustrations made using actual leaves. We are taken along on an autumn adventure thanks to the wind moving Leaf Man from place to place. With every turn of the page, children will be able to participate in what is going on with the images they see. As you read with the children, take time to ask some questions like:
- What do you see now?
- Can you find the Leaf Man?
- Where do you think Leaf Man will go next?
Allow children to help say the refrain “A Leaf Man’s got to go where the wind blows” as it is repeated throughout the books.
Search for Leaf Men Outside
Once you are finished reading Leaf Man, suggest getting ready to go outside to look for some Leaf Men of your own. Explain that you are going to gather leaves and items to make a Leaf Man of your own like the author did in her book. While walking around outside, you could do an “I Spy” like game trying to locate leaves similar to the ones that Leaf Man was made out of. Give each child a small paper bag to collect some leaves for a project of their own. While walking around, practice using questions to encourage use of descriptive words and vocabulary for the fall season.
Making Your Own Leaf Men
Assuming children are able to collect leaves from outside, provide them with a large piece of heavy paper and glue to make their own leaf person. For younger children, you could also provide them with a paper person cut out (boy or girl) and allow them to glue leaves onto them. Older children may like the ability to be more creative on a blank piece of paper. If you do not have a lot of leaves available to use for this project, The Teacher’s Cauldron has an alternative idea using colored construction paper, beads, glue, and a Leaf Man outline.
Before sending home the creations, allow the children to tell their own Leaf Man tale. This will help with self confidence, speaking to small groups, and more. When the tales are sent home, be sure to include a note about the book for parents to understand. Include other stories that they may want to read with their children to promote the vocabulary and words you are working on. Make a list of translations for multilingual families that may need this item.