Colourful Autumn leaves

After a wet few weeks, it has dried out a bit.  We finally got to crunch through some Autumn leaves on the pavements on our walks around home earlier this week.  The small boy enjoyed the crunching, and observed that the leaves were falling off the trees, and that they had changed colour.  I asked him if all the trees were losing their leaves as we walked past a conifer, and whilst he answered 'yes', he hesitated and asked me the same question!  This led to a discussion about different sorts of trees, and - as he likes to learn new long words - we talked about deciduous and evergreen trees.

The next day, we walked through a park with some big old trees, and he enjoyed playing in the fallen leaves.  He amassed a large collection of different colours and shapes of leaves, so we brought some of them home.  After a quick rinse and dry (as they were really quite muddy), they were ready to play with.  My husband suggested making a collage with them, and I didn't have a better idea, so this afternoon I gave the boy some glue and a sheet of orange cardboard and suggested making a picture for Daddy by sticking some leaves on.  He didn't seem at all convinced by the idea, but did give it a go (spurred on more by the squeezy PVA glue bottle than the leaves) and he did a bit of sticking before giving up and deciding playing with his Duplo was more fun.  I tried to persuade him to have another go a bit later, but he declined, hence it's a bit of a sparse collage given the vast collection of leaves he had to choose from!

The collection of leaves and the 'finished' collage

When we were collecting the leaves, we talked a bit about how they are green in summer as the green pigment is needed to help them photosynthesise and grow using energy from the Sun.  He kew this green pigment was called chlorophyll, thanks to his favourite CBeebies programme, 'Maddie's Do You Know'.  I explained that the chlorophyll breaks down in Autumn, so it's no longer green.  This means that you can see the other colours which were previously hidden by lots of green (the yellows and reds which come from carotenes and anthocyanins) in Autumn.  I didn't try and explain that the leaves keep making the anthocyanins until they fall off and this is why the leave turn from yellow to orange, red or even purple. 

We also talked about how new green leaves grow again in Spring.  He's still a little unsure about the seasons - each one is a long time in the memory of a 3 year old - and I don't think he can quite remember back to last Winter when the deciduous trees had no leaves.  It'll be nice to observe the changes in the trees and the weather with him this year now he's got a greater understanding of the world around him and is more able to talk about what he sees.

He's remembered about some trees losing their leaves, and others not, as he pointed out to me this morning that Christmas trees are evergreens when he saw a picture of one in a book.  When we were briefly doing the collage today, he had remembered the word 'deciduous' - I'm constantly amazed by how quickly he adds to his vocabulary (as well as how short his attention span can be for anything remotely crafty or art-based)!