Picture my world
An ACT REsearch network project
The Autumn leaves project
Gungahlin Children’s Centre
Many of us have fond childhood memories of playing in leaves. Using this as inspiration, the Gungahlin Children's Centre decided to undertake a journey focused around Autumn leaves. The Centre being in a new area in Canberra’s north with few large trees, some children were initially apprehensive, while others were intrigued. They relished the experiences provided, not missing any opportunity to play or look at leaves through many mediums. Staff at the service encouraged children to express their experience through art making.
Japanese Red Maple
The children visited the garden of one staff member to see the lovely rich red Japanese maple leaves. While travelling in the car, Ethan commented There's a forest out Thomas' window. Staff and students revelled in a shared experience of physical and sensory exploration of the leaves and surrounding garden.
At the Centre each age group from eight months to five years explored autumn leaves in many ways. Participation in art activities and group conversation enhanced the children's awareness of nature. Staff and children both learnt interesting facts about leaves.
While the children under three years explored leaves over a two week period, the pre-school children's interest flowed into two months of investigation and fascination. There was a range of opportunities that enabled the children to examine leaves closely. Many of the under twos were apprehensive when touching the leaves. Chloe (1 year) stood quietly with her head down, appearing wary of touching the leaves.
A group of children enjoyed playing with the leaves in the tub. Laughter flowed from the children as Blake (1 year) rolled around in the tub, spreading leaves around the room while the children played.
'How do the leaves feel?'
- Annika, 2 years
Yucky, soft and black.
- Kaylee, 1 year, Emma, 2 years, and Sophie, 2 years
Crunchy and green.
- Wesley, 2 years
It's rough, this is a plant
- Ashley, 2 years
On a sunny winter morning, the children were picking up the leaves that had blown to the ground. The children held the leaves high in the air, then watched them drop to the ground.
- Shania, 4 years, looking up at a bare tree
The tree has no more leaves.
- Ryan, 4 years, throwing a leaf into the air
The wind blows like that.
- Thomas, 3 years, rubbing a leaf between his fingers
It is like a feather.
- Riya, 3 years
They are cold, freezing and like a triangle. There are too many leaves.
- Jasmine, 3 years
They all got on the gound when it was windy, I put them on my head. Sabrina the dog eats them.
Many interesting discussions were prompted by close examination of the leaves, using a light table and magnifying glasses.
They look like they have feathers in them, commented Abby (4 years). Under the magnifying glass, the children learnt that the feather-like appearance of the leaf was formed by veins used to transport water and keep the leaf alive.
It depends on the shape of the leaf as to how many veins they had, said Ethan (4 years).
Comparing a new gum leaf with a deciduous maple leaf, Bronwyn (5 years) asked Why are some leaves green and others different colours?
Because they were from different trees, Caitlin (5 years) responded.
The children painted, printed, rolled and drew a variety of leaves for a tree mural, while pre-school children had an opportunity to sculpt a leaf or tree using clay.