Hiking and Leaf Crafts

I took the boys on a nature hike/ walk this morning.  We brought along a plastic bag to collect leaves.  I told them we'd be doing a few fun projects with them later this afternoon and let them collect as many as they'd like.

We walked for an hour or two and while I heard some complaining, they mostly had a great time.  We looked at the differences in the forest between spring, summer and fall.  We talked as we watched a snake slither across the path in front of us.  We caught and moved several woolly bear caterpillars.

Woolly bear number 1 (and yes he is
wearing a stuffed monkey around his neck!)

The boys found sticks and using their imagination Evan's became a bow combined with arrows from the pretend quiver on his back.  Alec's became a machine gun and later a crutch when he hurt himself.  Ian pretended his stick was a cane.  They all used their sticks to tap each of the markers along the trail.

Alec's crutch
Evan's bow
Ian's cane
We saw a tree that look like it had been struck by lightning.

tree struck by lightning

We felt the end of the cattail and since it was going to seed we got to feel how soft and fuzzy the seeds are too.  We watched the seeds blow off into the wind as we shook it.  We compared the cattail seeds to the milkweed seeds and watched how they fluttered off in the wind too.

The boys noticed that many of the streams, ponds and watering holes were drying up (or were already dried up).

A pond that is drying up

Evan tried to count all the woolly bear caterpillars that we saw.  Ian counted how long it took us to walk back to the car and decided it was an 8 minute walk (he was pretty accurate too!).  We saw a huge grasshopper, a few toads (that really blended into the leaves!), and lots of lots of colors.

So pretty in the fall!! 
We talked about animal defenses and the predators of the caterpillars.  We saw some trees that were still completely green and talked about why they might still be green while the other leaves have all turned orange and yellow already.  We talked about the difference in a new growth forest and an old forest.  We observed the changes between a pine forest and a forest with a variety of trees.

We noticed unusual tree formations-- like the arched branches that Alec convinced Evan to pretend was like a archway at a wedding.  We saw rocks disguised as a hill under layers of leaves and shrubs.  We even talked about stone walls, why they're in the middle of the woods and why New England is famous for those.   It was fantastic.  I loved that we were out getting exercise, working on science, a bit of history, some math and really all I had wanted was a few supplies for an art project!

The brothers "getting married" under the arch

all the boys take turns hitting the signs
One last tree with leaves in the middle of the pine forest. 

A very large grasshopper
 I had quite a few I had planned on doing with the kids but they had their own ideas.
Ian really wanted to do some leaf rubbings and the other boys eagerly joined in.  They peeled crayons, picked out their favorite colored paper and set to work.  Evan, who had never done leaf rubbings before needed a bit of instruction but the other two quickly helped him out and they were all working hard.

a  few completed pictures

Evan asked if we could press leaves so I pulled out the iron and the wax paper.

I haven't done this in years but I do remember enjoying it as a kid.  I had a hard time getting the wax paper to seal though and the leaves kept falling out.  I looked up some instructions thinking I was doing it wrong but I really wasn't.

Perhaps a different brand of wax paper would have worked better.  I'm not sure, but we did get a few leaves pressed and then the boys decided they'd rather go play.

I was bummed we didn't get around to a single activity I had planned but we did some fun arts and crafts and I did love that they were eager and that it was self- guided.

In the meantime I have some great works of art to display and brighten up the room!

Once completed we cut around the leaves leaving a
bit of waxed paper and taped them to our windows

Evan arranges his leaves just right on the wax paper


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