Exploring letters with leaves

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This simple yet lovely idea is from Linda over at Rain or Shine Mamma. The emphasis of Laura’s blog is on learning, creating, and playing in nature. I am thrilled to share her beautiful photographs and this fun idea with you today…

Exploring Letters with Leaves

by Linda of Rain or Shine Mamma

Nature is a wonderful place for learning and this time of the year I like to take advantage of the abundance of leaves that can be found on the ground. My youngest daughter (who is 3) is chomping on the bit to learn the alphabet like her big sister, and since we love spending time outdoors I came up with this simple letter recognition activity using leaves.

Exploring letters with leaves!


  • Tote bag for collecting leaves
  • 20-30 leaves
  • Marker

Exploring letters with leaves

How to do it:

  • Find a natural area with trees and start collecting your leaves. Encourage your child to find a variety of species, colors and textures. Learning in nature is typically multidisciplinary, and I always take the opportunity to talk about the color, shape and texture of the leaves. You can also discuss which leaves are OK to pick – do you get them off the trees or only pick the ones that have already fallen on the ground?
  • Use a marker to write letters on the leaves. If your child is just starting out with letter recognition, don’t include the whole alphabet. Choose four or five random letters and repeat them until all the leaves have been used. A logical place to start would be the letters in your child’s name, since those are usually the first ones he or she will begin to recognize.
  • When you’re done writing, put the leaves back in the tote bag and let your child draw a leaf out of the bag, eyes closed. Then have him or her identify the letter on the leaf. My daughter loved the element of surprise, and her hand kept going back in the bag for more!

Exploring Letters with Leaves

Variations for the more advanced learner: Children who are getting interested in writing may want to help print the letters on the leaves, at least my daughter did. Another way to challenge a more advanced learner is to have them put together their name using the leaves along with both upper and lowercase letters.


Linda McGurk is a U.S. writer and photographer who believes that the best childhood memories are created outside, while jumping in puddles, digging in dirt, catching frogs and climbing trees. She blogs about forest schooling and restoring the connection between children and nature at Rain or Shine Mamma, and hopes to inspire parents and educators to get outside with their children every day, regardless of the weather.

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Deborah J Stewart

Deborah J Stewart

Every time I think I know everything I need to know about teaching young children, God says, "Hold on a minute!" and gives me a new challenge.

Let me tell ya...

With each new challenge that you overcome, you will find yourself better equipped and more passionate about teaching young children.

God didn't call wimps to lead, teach, or care for His children. Nope, he has high expectations, so get ready. You will have to give your very best but after teaching for over 30 years, I can tell you that it is a wonderful and rewarding journey.

Whenever your calling feels hard, just remember, 'He who began a good work in you (and in the children you serve) will be faithful to complete it.'

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