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 ISSUE 13   •   8 OCTOBER 2006  
   This week's theme: leaves


1. Editorial: Back to nature
2. MAKE: miraculous leaf rubbings
3. MAKE: messy leaf prints
4. MAKE: a paper tree picture
5. MAKE: nature dress-ups
6. MAKE: a beautiful leaf window hanging
7. More leaf ideas
8. This week's featured subscriber's blog

1. Editorial: Back to nature

Regardless of whether you live in the city or the country (and whether it's Autumn or Spring in your neck of the woods) there should be an abundance of leaves at your disposal right now. 

This issue looks at different ways for young kids to appreciate the different textures, shapes and colours of leaves. Working with leaves is a fun and simple way for little ones to enhance their connection with the natural world.

I recently read an interesting article by Randy White about the importance of young children's relationship with nature. White talks about how, for a variety of different reasons, children today have fewer opportunities for outdoor free play and regular contact with the natural world. This is not only unfortunate for our children, but also sets the stage for the continuing loss of our natural environment.

He explains, "We need to allow children to develop their biophilia, their love for the Earth, before we ask them to save it. Rather then books and lectures, nature itself is children's best teacher. The more personal children's experience with nature, the more environmentally concerned and active children are likely to become."

Another interesting article from salon.com asks the question Do today's kids have "nature-deficit disorder?

For some more ideas on getting back to nature with your little ones, start at the Kiddley article on nature rambling and this page from Preschoolers Today about fun with nature.

Happy crafting and see you next week!

Amber Carvan

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2. MAKE: miraculous leaf rubbings

There's nothing fancy about this old favourite but you'll be surprised at how satisfying it is! And your little ones will think it's a sheer miracle! You can make a miraculous rubbing from any leaf, but those that have pronounced veins and interesting textures work particularly well.

You will need

• a selection of leaves
crayons, pastels, charcoal or coloured pencils

1. Place a leaf under a sheet of paper and rub with a crayon. Younger kids will need an adult to hold the paper still.

2. Watch the impression of the leaf appear on the page. Perfect for the fridge door!

3. MAKE: messy leaf prints

A great way to appreciate the unique shape of different leaves or a good excuse to get covered in paint? Hmmm, jury's out on that one but either way, it's good fun! This activity will work best with leaves that are firm and have a variety of different shapes.

You will need

a selection of leaves
acrylic paint

1. Dip leaves in a shallow tray of paint and make leaf prints on a large piece of paper.

4. MAKE: a paper tree picture

At our local scrapbooking shop we found a beautiful paper punch in the shape of a leaf and decided to put it to good use. If you don't have access to one of these you could easily cut simple leaf shapes to similar effect. If you use good quality papers, this simple picture can be framed and given as a gift to a friend or relative.

You will need

a leaf shaped paper punch (or a pair of scissors)
plain paper
origami paper (or other colourful paper)
paddlepop sticks (pop sticks)
glue and brush

1. Punch leaf shapes from paper.

2. Glue paddlepop stick to page to form the trunk of the tree. Then start to stick leaves around the stick to form a tree.

3. No, this picture hasn't been reversed. My daughter happens to be a left hander who writes backwards!

5. MAKE: nature dress-ups

Dress-ups are flavour of the month around these parts – Ella's average day involves more costume changes than a Madonna concert! We couldn't resist using some leaves from our magnolia tree to make this simple skirt, and a switch from a willow to make ourselves some garlands.

For the skirt you will need

a number of large hard leaves
string, ribbon or wool
hole punch

For the garland you will need

a length of willow, ivy or similar
sticky tape

1. Punch holes in the top of the leaves and thread them onto a piece of string or ribbon.

2. Tie the ends together and arrange leaves to form a skirt.

3. To make a garland, simply cut your switch to an appropriate length and fix with sticky tape.

6. MAKE: a beautiful leaf window hanging

This project encourages young kids to appreciate the different shapes and colours of leaves. Choose a selection of colourful leaves from your garden or local park, then do this activity the same day as older, crispy leaves may break up too readily (thanks to Amy for this particular tip).

You will need

a selection of leaves
clear sticky contact
a short piece of ribbon

1. Cut out a rectangular piece of contact and fold it in half. Then peel off the baking from one side of the contact and arrange leaves on it. Place the piece of ribbon at the top of the picture to form a loop.

2. Peel off the remaining contact and carefully fold it over the leaves and ribbon.

3. Trim off any wonky edges and hang it up against a window.

7. More leaf ideas

•  Press your favourite leaves in a big book
•  Explore your local greengrocers for leaves that smell and taste great
•  Make a mobile from colourful leaves covered in contact
•  Rake up a huge pile of leaves and jump in
•  Feeling brave? Try making roses from maple leaves.

For more ideas read my article on how to get great mileage from a weekly theme.

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8. This week's featured subscriber's blog


"Each day I wish I had invented waterproof sticky notes (for shower inspiration) or pen-friendly diapers to get down all my quirky thoughts that I am sure are relevant and publishable. And so God (actually another writer-mommy) sent me The Blog."

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