It’s finally fall! Fall is a great time to get outside, explore, and learn with your little one. Did you know that fall leaves are a great way to build early literacy skills? Simple activities like sorting leaves can add fun and help get your child ready to read. Read on for some tips to get started.
Gather Some Leaves
First, gather up some leaves as a family. You can take a walk around your neighborhood or yard to find leaves falling from the trees. If you can’t find enough leaves, other tree parts like acorns or pinecones work, too! Or, if the weather is uncooperative or you don’t have any luck on your leaf hunt, you can always substitute. You can buy play leaves at the store, print off pictures of leaves, or make your own using construction paper.
Sort Your Leaves
Next, it’s time to sort your leaves. Choose different categories that you want to sort by, like shape, color, or size. You can create piles on a table, use trays or plates, or make your own sorting mats and labels. Even something as gathering leaves into piles is a step towards sorting. These logical groups are what sorting is all about, and they are an important skill for math and science. Figuring out which group your leaves belong to also builds analytical skills.
Talk About Your Leaves
As you sort, spend some time talking about your leaves. What are the different shapes? Do your leaves have more than one color? Which leaf is your favorite? Talking about things that are the same and different teaches children to compare things independently. These comparing skills are an important part of differentiating between letters as we start reading. As you talk about your leaves, you can help your child put words to their observations. This can help your child form more complex sentences that link ideas together. You can also explore the different parts of your leaves, like the veins, stems, and different shapes. Pointing out these elements will help build your child’s visual discrimination skills.
Add More Skills
Looking for more fun with leaves? Here are some additional activities you can try.
- Practice number skills by counting your leaves as you sort. Talk about which group of leaves has the most or the least.
- Explore and talk about the different textures of your leaves. Introduce new vocabulary words to describe the leaves.
- Create leaf rubbings as a fun way to combine art and science. Or, draw pictures of your leaves. See our video for an example of leaf rubbing:
Explore Leaf Stories
Ready to add leaves to storytime? Check out some of these picture books.
Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
A man made of leaves blows away, traveling wherever the win may take him.
The Leaf Thief by Alice Hemming
Squirrel enjoys looking at the beautiful, colorful leaves, but everyday more and more disappear which makes him think someone is stealing them. Includes information on seasonal leaf loss in autumn.
We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger
Three friends go on a hike searching for fall leaves.
If You Find a Leaf by Aimée Sicuro
A Young Artist draws inspiration from the leaves she collects and every leaf sparks a new idea.
Leaves by David Ezra Stein
A curious bear observes how leaves change throughout the seasons.
Leaves! Leaves! Leaves! by Nancy Wallace
During the four seasons of the year Buddy Bear and his mother go “leaf walking” and discover a lot of interesting things about leaves.
My Leaf Book by Monica Wellington
A young girl visits an arboretum in the autumn to collect fallen leaves. She identifies various trees by the shapes of their leaves and pastes her collection into her own leaf book.