We have been collecting and pressing Autumn leaves all season, we just can’t resist those pretty colors! Part of our nature study is learning the names of the trees, especially the ones in our yard (I quiz my little ladies, husband and sisters all the time, poor things). I came up with a card deck to help the little ladies learn and identify the leaves in a fun way.
The first thing to do is go for a hike in your yard or local park and collect 2 leaves from each different kind of tree you find (preferably taken from the ground not off the tree); you also need only one leaf from one special tree. Press the leaves for at least 24 hours, this makes gluing down the leaves easier. We picked leaves from 12 different trees, 2 from 11 trees and a single leaf from one tree. We have a 23 card deck so far, but we plan to build on this.
What you need:
pressed leaves (at least 24 hours of pressing)- you need 2 of each leaf, and one single leaf like no other
manila paper, construction paper, or cardstock
a laminator or contact paper
Glue on the leaf and label it. I wish I would have had the little ladies include the Latin names, that’s good to know too; actually we will go back with a Sharpie and do this after they know the common names!
*You might want to add another thickness to the back of the card if using manila or construction paper; after putting the card through the laminator you can see a leaf print on the back. I don’t mind this because I like how it makes the girls recognize the shape of the leaf, not just the color.
Let the glue dry before placing in the laminator. I got a little impatient at first and put some of the cards in with wet glue, it smeared the glue and discolored some of the leaves. The leaves I was more patient with and allowed to dry overnight, came out perfectly.
Cut around the cards and they are ready for play. I also punched holes and keep the cards on a book ring to keep them together when not in use.
The 2 games we play with these cards are like Old Maid and Go Fish:
1. Odd Leaf Out- pass out the entire deck of cards, pull out the matches, take turns taking a card from each others’ deck looking for a match. The first person to match her whole deck wins, unless she has the odd leaf, in which case she will lose. ;(
2. Go Fish style (my favorite); however you don’t fish unless you have a huge deck of leaf cards. Pick a person, ask for a leaf, if no match it’s the next person’s turn. Once again you win if you match your whole deck, but lose if you have the odd leaf. I really like this one because the little ladies are calling out the leaves’ names looking for matches.
I’m sure there are other games to play with these cards. Of course you could play Memory, but remember to take out the odd leaf. These would be great to take on a hike to ID trees as well or do a scavenger hunt with them! I want to do an herbal deck too, but that will have to wait until next summer. Ooooh, and a flower deck full of pressed flowers would be pretty! The possibilties are endless! Enjoy!