This afternoon of fun with leaves developed from our observations of how the children were making use of them in their play in various ways. It was the culmination of some rich play.
The big beech tree has been leaving drifts of golden leaves in the play area outside and these have been mixed into soups and stews up at the play house, thrown in the air joyously and also used as money; incorporated into another big theme running outdoors at the moment, that of buying and selling petrol. One girl collected her leaves into a pot and bought many helpings of petrol as she circulated on her roller. One of the practitioners then helped the boy who had charge of the pump count his takings. Eighteen leaves! So these are a valuable currency at the moment.
Meanwhile indoors we’ve provided a small basket of leaves in the craft area and these have been painted and glued to make pictures of trees – a child-led choice but adults have been talking and supporting the idea as it gathers interest. You can see some examples on the board in playgroup. On the most recent trip to the allotment a group of our children discovered more and different leaves and had a great time throwing them around before collecting some to bring back to add to the craft table.
With all of these interests circulating we wanted to add a layer of more focused adult enrichment and it was Angela who planned an afternoon’s purposeful leaf work, intended to increase the children’s understanding of the change of seasons and what happens in autumn. We took bags outside to collect more leaves and all stopped under the big beech tree to look up – that’s where they come from! Then inside they were emptied out and Angela suggested that some of our animals needed beds to sleep in for the winter. Boxes were found and beds were made, with the adults and children talking together about which animals really slept in winter and how the growing cold made you want to snuggle down and get warm. Some of the children declared that their animals had gone to sleep – Shhh! – others went to the playgdough table to make “sausages” for their creatures.
We finished with the story of Ferdie’s Falling Leaves which leads from autumn into winter and looks forward to spring again, a really apt way to sum up what we’d been doing. This was a good illustration of how young children learn: spontaneously and imaginatively from what the encounter in the world, richly and purposefully when adults interact with them and provide some planned shape and direction. You can see how the observation and planning developed over the week in our big red “What’s been happening” book which shows you the learning going on in playgroup.