Leaf it to us!

Leaf it to us!

The Nature Friends program is for 4- or 5-year old children with an adult. Maximum group size if 20 child-adult teams. Programs are outside unless weather does not permit.

Pre-program activities

Give clipboard with piece of paper on it to each team. Instruct them to find a tree and sit under it. Lie down, look up quietly. Listen, smell, feel the tree.

Each team should then brainstorm what trees give us. Write your ideas down. For example: wood for building and fire, beauty, shelter, food, etc. Encourage the team to read a book under their tree. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein would be very appropriate at this time. Spend about 20 minutes under tree, providing enough time for people to explore trees in the area. This provides quiet one-on-one time after a busy day.


Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert


Share what trees give us. Show examples. Don’t forget to mention paper.


Have adult/child teams rotate through each of the following activities at their own pace.

Hug a Tree activity
Blindfold child. Have adult lead the child to a tree. Don’t take a direct route! Have child explore the tree. Bring child back to starting point and then remove blindfold. Can the child find the tree?

Bark and leaf rubbings

Matching leaves Thump, thump!
Use stethoscope to listen to the heartbeat of a tree (in spring).

Count rings on large tree cookie

Look at tree posters

Make leaf prints with stamps

Make paper
Shred paper before program. Place a small handful into a blender. Add water. Blend until slurry is formed. Pour into a dish tub. Add water if needed to make a thin slurry. Use metal screen squares with edges covered in duct tape. Place screen under paper slurry and pull up. Screen should be covered with the paper slurry. Let it drip. Place between 2 pieces of glossy or heavy paper. Squeeze water out. Open carefully and remove screen.

Paper slurry will be stuck to heavy (glossy) paper. Place heavy paper between newspaper and stomp out excess water. Take it home and let it dry. When dry, peel new paper from heavy/glossy paper. Decorate as desired.


Provide a variety of fruit and nuts from trees (apples, pears, cashews, pecans, etc.).


Autumn Leaves
(Tune: London Bridge)
Autumn leaves are falling down,
Falling down, falling down,
Autumn leaves are falling down,
Yellow, red, orange, and brown.

(Tune: Frere Jacques)
Leaves are falling, leaves are falling
On the ground, on the ground
Hear the fall sounds, all around.
Fall is here. Winter’s near.

Little Leaves
(Tune: Ten Little Indians)
1 little, 2 little, 3 little leaves
4 little, 5 little, 6 little leaves
7 little, 8 little, 9 little leaves
Blow them all away. Whoosh!

Activities provided by:

Polk County Conservation Board
Ginny Malcomson
Nature Friends is funded by Polk County Conservation Board, West Des Moines Park and Recreation, and the Des Moines Chapter of the Izaak Walton League.