Most would agree that the best thing about the fall is its colors: deep russets, bright yellows and golden bronze browns. Yet, all too soon fall gives way to winter and all of those colors are gone. Wouldn’t it be great to preserve them so they last all through the year?
Here, we’ll not only show you a great way to preserve fall leaves, but also how you can later use them for fantastic fall crafts your ESL students will love.
First, of course, you’ll need to gather your leaves. You may gather them with your students in the school yard or ask them to do it over the weekend and bring the prettiest leaves to class.
How to Preserve Leaves:
- Teach your students how to preserve fall leaves. There are several methods, some of which involve the use of an iron and wax paper or even a microwave. The best one for your ESL class is the easiest. Prepare a mixture of two parts water and one part glycerin. Place the mixture in a bowl or flat pan. Students brush off any dirt from their leaves – they must be nice and clean. Students take turns dipping their leaves in the mixture and setting them aside to dry. If you leave the leaves in the mixture for a few days, they’ll absorb the liquid and become bendable and soft.
- You may also show them this video from About.com, which illustrates a similar technique.
Fall Crafts with Leaves:
Fall Leaf Coasters
All you will need for this project is some contact paper and your students’ colorful leaves. Cut the contact paper into coaster-sized circles or squares – two for each student. Students peel the backing off one of the circles and arrange a few leaves – or just one in the center – onto the sticky side. They remove the backing from the other circle and press firmly onto the leaves to seal them between the two sheets of contact paper. Trim the edges with pinking shears for some stunning fall coasters. With this technique you can also make placemats.
This will make a great piece to take home to mom and dad! Give each of your students a paper plate and instruct them to cut out the center. Next, they glue their leaves around the rim for a colorful fall wreath.
For this project you’ll need some craft sticks and glue – if you have a glue gun, so much the better. Also, you’ll need “flower pots” – empty tin cans will do nicely. Help your students glue their leaves to the craft sticks. Then, they decorate their flower pots and place their “flowers” in them. The more colorful the leaves, the more colorful the bouquet!
Get your young learners set up with some crayons, paper and plenty of leaves in different sizes and shapes. Make sure they are not too dry and won’t crack with the rubbing. Students place the paper over the leaf and rub with a crayon. Use the rubbings to decorate the classroom for the fall – they’ll make a gorgeous bulletin board.
For this project, you’ll need paints and paintbrushes, construction paper and scrap pieces of paper. Instruct your students to brush some paint onto a leaf, then place it – painted-side down – on the construction paper. The must place the scrap piece of paper over it, gently rub the leaf, then remove the paper and peel off the leave to see the stamp it has left. Encourage them to try this with leaves of different sizes and shapes.
In addition to the usual supplies, like glue and scissors, you’ll also need sheets of craft foam and magnets or magnetic sheets/tape. Students choose a leaf. They trace the outline on a sheet of craft foam. They cut out the foam outline and then glue their leaf onto it. All that is left to do is glue the magnet on the back. Canadian children can make a maple leaf magnet for Canada Day, for example.
Wouldn’t it be great to bring the outdoors inside during the fall? Show your students how they can make a fall mobile to hang in their bedrooms. In addition to their leaves, children must bring two small branches each. Tie the two branches together at the middle so they form a cross. Use a glue gun to secure the binding, if necessary. Students punch holes through the tops of 5-6 leaves. They tie them with string and attach them to their mobile.
In many places, fall is a wonderland of colors with thick, rich carpets made of fallen leaves. Children love to play with them outdoors – why not play with them indoors and in your ESL classroom?
Make sure you encourage them to gather only leaves that have fallen (not to pluck them from the trees), to watch out for bugs or insects, and to keep their leaf collection clean. There’s no better way to enjoy nature in the fall.
Don’t you just love our “What You Can Do with…” articles? Want more? There are plenty of them in our ESL Essentials section.