by Michelle Riggen-Ransom
Today my four-year-old son and I made a “leaf mobile” for his baby sister. This was a fun and surprisingly easy activity that can be done with kids of any age. First, we loaded the baby up in her stroller and went for a leaf walk. We were on the lookout for leaves of different colors, shapes, and sizes that would be our inspiration for paper leaves we would later cut from colored paper. This led to a lively discussion about which trees lost leaves and which didn’t, the definition of the word “evergreen,” even (gasp)…Christmas!
We brought our collection home and spread it on the kitchen table, looking for interesting shapes and patterns. It turns out that bigger leaves are better for this project, since they are easier for kids (and moms and dads) to trace than to draw freehand. We used five colors of construction paper: brown, light yellow, red, dark green, and purple. With a quick hole punched in the stem of each leaf and threaded with clear fishing line, we were ready to assemble the mobile.
On our walk, we had also picked up a long, curved stick about two feet long and just thicker than a pencil for the base of the mobile. We tied each hanging leaf about four inches apart, varying the colors and length of lines for maximum visual interest. Then my husband helped us screw a hook into the ceiling just above the crib, and we suspended the mobile so that it balanced just right. We were careful to hang it high above the crib so little hands and feet couldn’t grasp or kick it. Brother and sister spent a good half hour lying in the crib and gazing at it, giggling and snuggling in their own private kiddo world.
We plan on making new mobiles periodically: flowers for spring and sea creatures in the summer. I love how modern and simple the end result is, and I especially love that my son helped make something for his little sister.
Nature/Nurture, written by Michelle Riggen-Ransom, is a column with ideas and information to help kids and their families engage with the natural world in fun, interesting ways. Share your thoughts and explorations by adding your comment below, or contact us with your story ideas.