We are Going on a Leaf Hunt

It’s that time of year again, the wind is picking up and the air is getting cooler. What could be a better activity than Leaf Play? Nestled in Oakwood’s garden is nature’s own unique activity centre with lots of opportunity for open ended play. The sensory benefits that can be found from a romp in a pile of leaves is endless.

Tactile The tactile sense is responsible for the sense of touch. It allows a child to determine texture, pressure, temperature and pain. It allows us to interpret our world through our hands, our feet, our skin, and our entire body. We interpret EVERYTHING through our tactile system. Leaf play is an excellent way for children to feel the various textures of smooth, rough, soft and crunchy. As they build the leaf piles they will learn the amount of pressure needed to push or pick up leaves. All of these simple activities will help children develop important fine motor and writing skills down the road.

Movement {Vestibular} The vestibular sense is responsible for the sense of movement. It allows children to feel safe, know their surroundings and move their surroundings safely. Leaf play is an excellent source of movement and activity that stimulates the sensory system. Jumping into the huge leaf piles, running into the leaves, and even throwing the leaves in the air, is not only fun and exciting, but also an extremely important part of developing your child’s sensory systems.

Visual/ Motor The visual sense is responsible, not only for our sight, but for discriminating size, locating objects, and determining importance. A huge leaf pile is a great place to develop visual motor skills by playing look and find games and scavenger hunts. These are just a few of the many benefits of leaf play. Leaf play provides opportunities for language development, fine motor development, and creative dramatic play. Not to mention the hours of fun!

Links to EYFS

Physical – The toddlers were able to manage a range of ground from flat to uneven and used their whole body moving, jumping, running and being immersed in the leaves. Active play has benefits beyond those of physical movement – it improves brain development and later school performance.

Personal, Social and Emotional – The toddlers learnt through negotiating with their friends and staff which was the softest part to roll in.

Communication and language – The toddlers were chatting and communicating during this activity stimulated by these experiences developing their confidence in speaking and listening skills.

Expressive arts and design – Leaves are a wonderful open-ended resource that stimulated the toddler’s imaginations using the leaves for creating and building.

Mathematics - Hands-on use of real objects is the foundation of developing mathematical understanding and engagement is the key. Leaf play was perfect in helping develop these early maths skills (who can find the biggest leaf, how tall can we make the tower, how heavy are they, how many leaves can you throw in the air)

Literacy - We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt story encouraged the children to look for how many different kinds of leaves there are.

Understanding the world – This activity prompted spontaneous learning about the flora and fauna, the weather, the seasons, growth.

Characteristics of effective learning Playing and exploring – The toddlers used all their senses to understand the natural world and the changes, Active learning - The toddlers enjoyed and achieved what they set out to do. There is no right or wrong way to play with the open-ended resources, being outdoors promotes resilience by falling over and getting back up again! Creating and critical thinking – The children were starting to notice patterns in the leaf shapes.

Samantha Richmond Nursery Manager

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