Yesterday was our annual walk to the wooded area near our center to look for “Leaf Man.” Though we follow Emergent Curriculum, the walk to find Leaf Man has become a bit of a Greenie Tradition, something we do every year after the leaves start to fall and before the weather turns too cold for all of the Greenies to enjoy long walks.
The excitement builds as the Greenies see me put the words LEAF MAN on our classroom calendar. Some of the veteran Greenies reminisce about our walk from the previous year, further exciting our younger kids.
The morning of our walk we read the book “Leaf Man” by Lois Ehlert. We talk about how Lois carefully collected and preserved her leaves. We talk about the colors and shapes and how she arranged the leaves to make the pictures. The Greenies listen and exclaim with joy as they identify the many animals made out of leaves. We talk about what we might see, how we might find parts of Leaf Man to collect and bring back to our classroom.
We put on our jackets, pick a grocery bag to carry and a buddy to walk with and off we go! The walk to the woods is full of excitement; we walk over a road or two, practicing our stop-look-listen skills. We walk past dying chokeberries, a large skunk cabbage, a pond. One sidewalk is lined with trees bearing bright red leaves, one Greenie looks ahead and points at the ‘red leaf tunnel’ we must go through. They create their own adventure, pointing at the english ivy- “Don’t touch that! It’s poison!”
Finally we arrive at our destination. Many children start by pointing out the sound of the highway nearby, but the sounds of the highway magically disappear behind the shouts of excitement as the children run over the leaf carpeted ground. They find acorns and proclaim to have found Leaf Man’s belly button. Others pick up leafs and sticks representing arms, bodies, and legs.
A beautiful patch of moss is found, Greenies gather around. “It’s Leaf Man’s carpet!” Leaf Man does live here, in these woods; you just have to have the eyes to see it.
The time spent in the woods is not all about gathering parts of Leaf Man, we take time to climb a tree, stand on a stump, lift some large sticks, feeling very powerful in our bodies. We look up, down, under and through. We lift and drop. We throw. We smell. We see.
On our way back to our classroom we see a blue heron near a small pond. The Greenies pause in wonder, guessing what it might eat, why it has such long legs. We continue on, talking about what we might do with our leaves. Those who have gone on this adventure talk about how they might use glue and paper to arrange their leaves into Leaf Men and Leaf Girls.
That afternoon we take the children’s suggestions and provide them with what they need. The children sit and arrange their leaves. I work with a parent who went with us and used an IPad to create a video of our adventure. Even I get to learn something new today.
We used our senses, including our sense of adventure. Another search for Leaf Man has come and gone… until next year!