This summer we explored leaves using our homemade play-doh. The children at my home-based nature nursery school including my own daughter love playdough, so adding the loose parts play with the leaves added extra fun for them.
Let me begin by explaining that my philosophy of education is that it should be child-led, interest and play based in order to create a love of lifelong learning. None of the Explorations I add to my website are teacher-directed or worksheet based. This is why I call them Explorations instead of lesson plans.
This Exploration is simple to put together. We began by going outside to our outdoor classroom to collect leaves. We looked on the ground first before we picked any off of the tree. This activity allowed us to count our leaves, talk about colors including different shades of green, and which leaves were the biggest and smallest. We were also identifying the type of leaf for each one which helped us build our vocabulary and language.
Next, we went back inside because we don’t have an outdoor table at the moment. Otherwise, we would have stayed outside for the remainder. We got out our homemade playdough and began using the leaves in our playdough Explorations. Many of the kids were noticing the leaf imprints and how each one was different. This added to our language building and wonderings. It also helped to boost our fine motor skills which will eventually help them with their future writing.
Over all, the children loved this Exploration. It kept them excited and learning through their play. We “accomplished” a lot in the time they played with the leaves and playdough.
Playdough (I prefer to use our homemade version)
Children with a playful spirit
Toddlers and up
Fine motor, gross motor, vocabulary/language, color identification, number sense, shortest/tallest, knowledge of local trees
Daycares, preschools, family Explorations, homeschool, elementary, middle school or any one else who enjoys playdough and leaves