My mother-in-law bought the book That’s When I’m Happy by Beth Shoshan for us when our boys were babies. They both still love this one, especially my younger little guy, Mitch. There’s a page where the little bear is helping his dad rake up the leaves in the yard and he describes how his dad “chooses one special leaf for me because it’s deeper, darker, redder than all the others”. So this has become Mitch’s mission on every walk and bike ride this fall: to find the deepest, darkest, reddest leaf. He gets so excited and runs to show me every one – “Mom! Just like That’s When I’m Happy!” I finally figured out a way for to put a leaf collection to good use with a few playful fine motor activities for kids.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED: Leaves, clothespins (you can paint them or color them with marker to match your colored leaves)
WHAT TO DO:
First, go on a leaf hunt! Be sure to get a good variety of colors, shapes, and sizes.
1 – Work with your child to categorize the leaves in different ways and clip the ones that go together with a clothespin (e.g. clip all of the yellow leaves together, clip all of the big leaves together, clip all of the maple leaves together).
2 – Have little ones use clothespins to hang their leaves on a string to make a pretty fall garland. Try incorporating a pattern for an added visual perceptual challenge!
3 – Put all of your leaves in a bucket or basket and set up a few clotheslines. Decide how you’re going to categorize the leaves (e.g. color, size, type) and have kids take turns choosing a leaf out of the bucket and moving in different ways to hang the leaves on the correct clothesline (all of the yellow leaves together, all of the maple leaves together, etc.).
4 – Set up a real branch or a bunch of twigs inside (place a block of foam used to arrange flowers in the bottom of a pitcher and stick the branches inside) or outside (just bury the bottom section of the branch in the dirt) and have kids decorate them with their leaves.
HOW TO CHANGE IT UP:
-I also made a set of different colored paper leaves with clothespins to match. These work just as well as the real thing for all of the activities above.
-See what other creative ways your kids can describe and categorize their leaves (crunchy, smooth, spotted, jagged)
-Check out this adorable leaf garland from A Beautiful Mess. I’m thinking older kids would be able to make one like this! It would be so cute hanging from the mantel!
-Match your leaves up to these printable leaf identification cards from Wildflower Ramblings.
SKILL AREAS ADDRESSED: Fine motor skills activity, visual motor integration, visual perceptual skills, strength, cognitive skills
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