In our recent walks to the park and around the school the children have begun to notice the leaves that blanket the sidewalks and their beautiful colors. We asked children and families to collect leaves over the weekend in addition to some we had brought in from the surrounding neighborhood. In small groups in the TinkerLab we worked with the children to sort the leaves. As we anticipated, their sorting notion was to group the leaves by color. We talked about the various shades of the leaves, noticing the difference between dark brown and light brown. We used color mats to help discern where each leaf best fit. Using the mats as a background against a leaf, it was easier for the children to decide if a leaf fit best in the yellow or brown group. We found leaves that could fit in multiple categories and discussed in small groups where the best choice for the leaf was, working to come to a group decision.
To keep the leaves soft and malleable enough to adhere to the color mats, we preserved them in a solution of water and glycerin. Children took turns to use measuring cups, droppers, and spoons to measure, stir, and pour the solution. The leaves have been soaking in the solution for five days.
During the week, we also observed students taking interest in mixing paint colors of yellow, green, and orange to make the color brown. Testing various hypotheses they found the correct combination and created brown paint. Next week, based on the intersection of these two projects, students will glue the leaves to the corresponding color mats, and through the process of mixing paint, create their own unique fall color.
Meg Fitzgerald is the lead teacher and Madeline Wadington is the Apprentice teacher in the PK classroom at Bennett Day School in Chicago, IL.