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Autumn Leaf Walk

How you can help at home: In this fun and educational activity your preschooler explores leaves she has collected outside.

By Jeanie McLoughlin

Go outdoors and collect fallen leaves and seeds from different trees. Bring the leaves and seeds indoors and have your child sort them.

What You'll Need

  • Leaves and seeds from a variety of trees
  • A bag or basket to hold the leaves and seeds you collect

Here's How To Do It

Take a walk with your child in your neighborhood or a park and collect fallen leaves from a variety of trees. If you can find them, also collect seeds (such as acorns, pine cones or eucalyptus pods) from the trees. Talk to your child about the trees and the seasonal change. Discuss how deciduous trees lose their leaves while evergreen trees keep their leaves year-round. Enjoy the outdoors and exercise. (Note: Make sure to avoid poison oak, sumac, etc.) Once you get home, sort the leaves and seeds by color, shape and size. This helps your child develop observational skills such as sorting and classifying. Help your child build her vocabulary by learning the names of a variety of trees, moving from the general (tree) to more specific (oak, maple, ash, pine.) Ask her questions such as:

  • "What can you tell me about these leaves?"
  • "Which ones are alike? How are they alike?"
  • "Which ones are different?" "How are they different?"

Activity extenders

  • Help your child link each seed to its leaf (e.g. oak leaf and acorn; pine cone and pine needle; walnut leaf and walnut; maple and winged seed.)
  • Create an autumn leaf collage. Help your child glue the leaves and seeds on to a piece of paper. Then you can label the names of the types of leaves and seeds.
  • Trace a leaf onto a piece of paper. Have your child color in the leaf.
  • Go to the library and take out a picture book on trees to learn more.

Jeanie McLoughlin is the director of Preschool for All San Mateo County at the San Mateo County Office of Education in Redwood City, California. Jeanie has worked in the field of education for over 20 years. She has been the coordinator for the San Mateo County local child care planning council, a child care resource and referral counselor, and a teacher and director of a private child care center. In March 2004 she was inducted by the Commission on the Status of Women into the San Mateo County Women's Hall of Fame. She has an AS in Early Childhood Education and a BA in Human Services. She is the mother of two young adults.