odd leaf out (card game using pressed leaves)

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

go fish style

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.

label card

 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.

buckeye leafleaf card

  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.  ;(

tree leaf game old maid style

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!


  • January 7, 2010 - 10:30 pm | Permalink

    Lovely project. I can’t wait to make a deck with my daughters…we might use some pressed flowers instead of leaves. Thank you so much for sharing all of your wonderful ideas. I have you linked to my website so that others can share in your creative life as well.

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  • November 20, 2009 - 8:42 pm | Permalink

    these are so pretty, and…everyone’s deck will be different depending on where they live! i’ll be linking :)

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  • November 19, 2009 - 4:42 am | Permalink

    Wow, really a great idea!! We’ve bee collecting leaves since September, we have a lot of different so I think we can make it to.
    Just a problem, I need to learn some tree’s name :)!
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful idea, I’ll let you know…

  • November 19, 2009 - 4:10 am | Permalink

    I love this idea! Simply perfect.

  • November 18, 2009 - 8:36 pm | Permalink

    looks like i’m not the only one convinced that she needs a laminator thanks to your post!

  • November 18, 2009 - 6:34 pm | Permalink

    Ooo! This reminds me of a wonderful teaching tool I bought this fall! http://www.amazon.com/Fandex-Family-Field-Guides-Trees/dp/0761112049 Each card has the leaf, bark, and flowers/seeds of each tree on it. It also gives the common and scientific name, what kind of leaves it has, what kind of seeds, the tree shape, habitat, and range of the tree as well as other fun facts. I love it! It’s been a big help to me.

  • November 18, 2009 - 9:07 am | Permalink

    Awesome! (…and I have laminator envy)

  • November 17, 2009 - 11:30 pm | Permalink

    I need a laminator. It’s that simple.

  • November 17, 2009 - 2:48 pm | Permalink

    What a great idea! My two-year-old and I have been collecting leaves this fall as well, though we have only used them for our seasonal dioramas. I love your blog and thoughts!

  • Lynnette
    November 17, 2009 - 11:46 am | Permalink

    This is a great idea. Thank you.

  • November 17, 2009 - 11:03 am | Permalink

    No wonder you have received so many responses on this idea! It is brilliant! Beautiful! And I am sure your children really enjoyed learning in this way. They will no doubt ever forget the names of the trees or the experience of making these with you.

  • November 17, 2009 - 10:43 am | Permalink

    Good idea!
    While you play you learn a lot :)
    Next year, I make a quartet game.
    Similar to the fishgame, you just collect 4 cards together…
    4 types of flowers, grass, grains, herbs, leaves, feathers.

  • November 17, 2009 - 10:30 am | Permalink

    I love the card game idea – now if we only had some trees…

  • November 17, 2009 - 9:08 am | Permalink

    What a great way to learn the different leaves from different trees. And a nice way to keep your nature nice and organized. That’s something I fumble with sometimes. I especially like that Hawthorn leaf ;)

  • November 17, 2009 - 8:56 am | Permalink

    Love this idea! Thank you. Can you make some recommendations to someone looking to purchase a laminator?

    • November 17, 2009 - 9:06 am | Permalink

      I wish I could make a recommendation, but my mom just picked this up for us one day ay 75% off. It is now sitting in our “creative room” jammed up…..again! I it’s had it’s last day already after very little use. It’s called “Your Story,” it’s some sort of weird bookmaking machine for scarpbooking. So I don’t recommend that one.

      I have seen others in the stationary department at Target and Walmart for under $40, I can’t remember the price exactly. It’s easy to buy a package of laminating sheets as well, they should be by the laminators.

      I hope this helped. I will be replacing mine if we can’t get it fixed. There are so many neat things to do with a laminator.

  • November 17, 2009 - 8:47 am | Permalink

    Cool! As soon as I saw the cards, I was thinking, “ooh, those would be great for Go Fish.” I see you beat me to the punch. ;) We’ve made art cards in a similar way with works from various painters whose work we want the kids to be able to identify. Isn’t it funny how our passions shine through when teaching our kids. I need to branch out (no pun intended) and make a Go Fish game like this too. Thanks, Lisa!

    (BTW, I do have Harry’s new cd, although I didn’t see him on the talk show circuit. I’m so out of the loop, tv-wise. It’s a great cd though, have you heard it?)

    • November 17, 2009 - 9:08 am | Permalink

      I haven’t heard all of it yet. But I will be buying it next paycheck. It’s almost time to start playing his holiday music….Wooo Hoooooo!!!

  • November 17, 2009 - 8:39 am | Permalink

    I SO need a laminator! :D WHAT A GREAT IDEA!!!

  • November 17, 2009 - 7:28 am | Permalink

    I like this idea Lisa! I am jealous of your laminator :)

  • November 17, 2009 - 7:19 am | Permalink

    What a great idea Lisa! I would love to learn more about tree identification too. What a great learning experience for your kids.

  • November 17, 2009 - 6:51 am | Permalink

    I love your laminator! I could really use this game too and learn to identify tree leaves. I love you use real leaves.

  • November 17, 2009 - 4:29 am | Permalink

    What a beautiful activity- your beautiful blog is such an inspiration

  • November 17, 2009 - 3:15 am | Permalink

    Brilliant! As I read, I was making a mental list of the types leaves we could collect here: olive, orange, lemon, fig, etc. Our deck would look so different from yours, but it still sounds like fun!

  • November 17, 2009 - 2:49 am | Permalink

    You know, these are just the kind of things that I love!!

    • November 17, 2009 - 9:09 am | Permalink

      I thought of you while doing this actually! I figured you would like this one. ;)

  • November 17, 2009 - 12:07 am | Permalink

    You are so full of so many wonderful and creative ideas Lisa! I love these leaf cards! My kids have lost most of the cards in our decks that we have, but I’m sure they would have so much more respect for a beautiful home made leaf deck! You are great!
    love, Sara

  • November 17, 2009 - 12:03 am | Permalink

    Fun and beautiful too. We are so past autumn leaf time here… yours are lovely.

    • November 17, 2009 - 9:10 am | Permalink

      We pretty much are too, but we had collected all season and have a lot of pressed leaves to use.

  • November 16, 2009 - 11:30 pm | Permalink

    I am so jealous that you have a laminator, Lisa! :)

  • November 16, 2009 - 11:05 pm | Permalink

    This is SO cool! Of course, I’d have to learn the names of trees in order to do this… and I will! one day.

  • Robin
    November 16, 2009 - 10:29 pm | Permalink

    Totally going to do this with my kiddos at work!!

  • November 16, 2009 - 10:12 pm | Permalink

    I love this idea, and will have to make a deck next year when there are still leaves on the trees! This year, I made a pressed-leaf book from the herbs the kids snack on in our herb garden.

  • November 16, 2009 - 10:03 pm | Permalink

    Such a lovely idea (I feel like I am saying this everyday on your blog! You’re one creative homeschooling mama!). We make a lot of our own games too, but I hadn’t thought of this one! Of course, we have no pretty fall leaves here, everything is green, green, green…not that I am complaining. ;)

  • November 16, 2009 - 9:57 pm | Permalink

    What a fun and creative idea! And I’m so jealous that a) you own a laminating machine, and b) you still have pretty leaves to collect! Our leaves are all gone, but we will definitely make leaf cards next fall.


  • November 16, 2009 - 9:54 pm | Permalink

    That is a great idea! It would help me to learn all of the names too. I’m still not sure what the tree in our backyard is (I’m thinking Ash — but I don’t know). Thanks.

  • November 16, 2009 - 9:44 pm | Permalink

    pretty!! i’d love to know more about unschooling. i homeschool but i have always wondered about unschooling. i’ll continue to read your blog. :)

  • November 16, 2009 - 9:39 pm | Permalink

    What a beautiful card game! Maybe my kids would treat their cards better if they actually spent time making them. Maybe. Thanks for the idea.

  • November 16, 2009 - 9:22 pm | Permalink

    That is a really great idea. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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