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Summer Learning Fun: Make a Leaf Collection Book from a Dollar Store Photo Album

September 2, 2012

Summer is almost over!  I’ve come up with one last learning activity to share with you before my daughter Olivia starts preschool next week.  Actually, I almost forgot to add this to my Summer Learning Fun series that I have been doing the past few months.  But, when Olivia mentioned something looking like a bamboo leaf the other day, I knew that she learned something from my simple science lesson.

I like using cheap plastic photo albums from the dollar store to create learning books for kids.  One day I’ll put together a blog post to share different ways you can use these albums.

We removed the cardboard insert and designed our own nature inspired book cover.  For my preschooler, it was all about stickers!!

One afternoon, I decided to explore with Olivia and talk about the different plants right in our back yard.  There was plenty to talk about once we got started.  And, working with a very curious 4-year old had me thanking the Lord I majored in biology.   I was bombarded with questions like, “Why do plants have leaves?”  (Answer: they use their leaves to make energy from the sunshine 😀 )   When I couldn’t answer her question, she got the usual reply, “Because that’s how God made it…” LOL

We collected leaves from the various plants and trees around the house.  Our collection included leaves from our raspberry bush, herb garden, flowers, and landscaping plants.  I took pictures of the source of each leaf and placed it in the photo album.  Next to the photo, we placed the matching leaf.

Children learn and remember things by incorporating their senses.  You should always look for ways to tie a memory with  a sense of touch, smell, hearing, sight, or even taste.  Olivia already knew that panda bears eat bamboo.  So when we collected our bamboo leaf, she thought of panda bears.  I pointed out that the leaf is long and skinny.  She remembered the look and feel of that leaf when she noticed another similar leaf a few weeks later.  That was when she said, “Look mom, that looks like a bamboo leaf!”  It was exciting to hear her say that.

The different things we talked about each leaf were the shape, the edge being rough or smooth, the smell, and even the taste (I let her nibble on some parsley and chives).  For the most part, Olivia just enjoyed looking through her leaf album.  She even brought it to church and showed it to someone we know who is a biology professor.  Hmm, maybe she’ll get a PhD in biology?

If you would like to do something like this, here are some other creative ways to use your leaf collection book:

  1. Identify the leaves with the name of the plant
  2. Use dry leaves in the Fall
  3. Teach the difference between evergreen versus deciduous trees
  4. Create a scavenger hunt book (have them find the leaf that match the picture of the plant)
  5. Match the flower/fruit/vegetable to the plant

We had a nice time talking about plants and leaves that day.  This activity is certainly proof that you don’t have to travel far for a learning experience.  For us, it was right in our back yard.

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