Hammer time with nature

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Leaves and flowers are great tools for further play and exploration with Little Feet. You can do lots with them and there are lots of teaching opportunities that can go along side that fun. Children have an insane amount of energy. Little Feet A is a runner. She can run and run and run for miles if she had an option and makes it look so easy, she takes after her Daddy in respect (definitely not me!). With this in mind sometimes it is fun to be able to channel this energy into an activity. 

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Using a wooden toy hammer from her tool set and a rolling pin from the play doh we created prints of leaves and flowers by first rolling the leaves onto paper and then hammering them. The impact transfers the leaf pattern and green pigment onto the paper and leaves a sort of shadow of the colour and the anatomy. A little like flower pressing but without actually having to keep them.

What you will need:

  • Leaves

  • Flowers

  • Wooden hammer

  • Rolling pin

  • Kitchen roll

  • White paper

  • Mashing tape (optional)

Instructions:

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  1. Collect from different shaped leaves and different coloured flowers. Try and pick leaves that have an obvious pattern on it's underside as it is these ones that will come out the best. Make sure the leaves are fresh and not ones on the ground. We need as much 'juice' in them as possible. By that I mean water as this will help the transference to paper a bit better. Equally they don't want be soaking after rainfall as that will soak your paper.

  2. Place your paper on the floor or a surface you don't mind getting a battering. Place your leaf or flower directly onto the paper and place a piece of kitchen roll on top of the item, making sure it is all covered. If you think you make need a little bit of masking tape to tape the kitchen roll and paper together to help it not move then put a little at each corner of the kitchen roll.

  3. With your rolling pin first, starting at the bottom, roll up and down over the leaf with a firm pressure a few times. These will squash the stem part and help flatten the leaf.

  4. Put the rolling pin to one side and now use the hammer, hammering all over the leaf. Make sure to make and effort around the edges of the leaf as this will help define the shape of your imprint.

  5. At this point, gently lift the kitchen roll up to see how the imprint is going. If you are happy with it, then take the roll off and discard it. If you are missing some of the imprint on the paper then keep hammering, concentrating on the parts that are missing.

Note: Bare in mind that flowers will not need as much banging as a leaf. If you over do the hammering you will lose the shape of your imprint. Experiment with a few flowers to find the right technique you need for an effective result. 

BBC bitesize have some great educational videos about plants and flowers that can accompany this activity. 

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Leaf me alone, I'm reading

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Continuing with our Autumn leaves theme, here is an easy craft you can do with minimum effort and maximum effect. Using leaves that we pressed we have created some unique bookmarks. Presumably some of your still read physical books and not kindles right? The kindle has it's place don't get me wrong, it was invaluable to me when I used to commute. I spent the first few months lugging around huge novels to read on the train until I got a kindle. However, you really can't beat a good old physical book to get stuck into. I'm partial to an old, musty, library smelling book.

Over the years Daddy Patronus has brain-washed me into no long folding the corner of pages to bookmark them. I remember his sheer horror when he first found out I did that... *halo smiley face emoji* However, I am ALWAYS looking for a bookmark and there always seems to be a lack of one anywhere near me. With that in mind we made some Autumn 2017 safe keeps that we get to look at every time we open our books. 

Just a note to this activity, there is no reason you can't do this with flowers/petals from a special day. Perhaps you were a bridesmaid at a wedding, or your Mummy or Daddy is getting married, or perhaps you just had a really lovely family day that you want to remember forever. All you need to do is pick a flower, daffodil or leaf from wherever you are, press it and freeze it in time by enveloping it with contact paper.

All you need is:

  • Autumn leaves
  • Heavy books
  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Contact Paper

Instructions:

  1. Go for a walk with a bucket and collect any interesting looking leaves you can find. We're always drawn to the bright colours, or changing colours. 
  2. When you get home, gently place your leaves flat on a piece of paper. Place another piece of paper gently on top of them and add some heavy books/anything heavy on top of them. Leave them there overnight. 
  3. The next day carefully lift everything off them and see how flat and thin they have become. Be careful not to break them. 
  4. Cut some contact paper to the right size, then cut another piece, matching in size. Take the backing off one piece of contact paper and place the non-sticky side down on the table. Gently place your leaf onto the stick side. Gently rub the leaf so it sticks to the contact paper. Then take the backing off the other piece of contact paper and starting at the top, sticky side down, lower it and carefully place on top of the leaf so that it sticks. Start at the top and smooth the contact paper down with you finger so not to let any air bubbles in. 
  5. Once you are happy it is smoothly stuck down, with the scissors neatly cut around the leaf. Make sure to leave about 1cm border around the leaf otherwise they will unstick. 

Everyone loves a good leaf pun. With that in mind...

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