Lynn Handshy
Apple This is Lynn Handshy. Lynn teaches first grade at Tularcitos Elementary School in Carmel Valley, California. She will write monthly articles about the major activities and projects of her classroom. We will feature those projects here on Leslie's website.

Animal Leaf Collage

By Lynn Handshy

What could be more quintessentially autumn than the turning of leaves? Besides the sound of crisp leaves crunching under my feet and jumping into raked piles of them what I most like doing with leaves is to make animal collages.

I learned this appealing art form while living in the South Pacific. In the act of tidying their villages from the litter of trade winds women and children collect fallen leaves and arrange them into pictures on the sand. From collected foliage intricate, layered images of island life would emerge to decorate the "lawns" in front of fales (houses) churches and school yards. The pictures of animals, trees and people created from leaves would beautify the village until the next winds would blow.

In my classroom I have adapted this form of collage to match my student's skill levels and the space limitations of a conventional classroom. We make animal collages with found leaves on paper.

Here's how we do it:
I give each child a bag with his/her name on it before we set off on a "leaf walk". Their challenge is to fill the bag with as many different leaves as they can find. They look for long, short, wide, ruffled, spiky rippled and round leaves.

Each child shorts leaves into like categories. If they have an excess of a particular kind they donate extras to the group collection located in a central spot in the room.

They look at the shapes to inspire their creation. Long eucalyptus leaves may stir thoughts of parrot feathers or a snake body for example. They begin by building their animal on their desktops. When they feel ready I give them sky blue construction paper (12x18) and they reassemble their critter by gluing leaves on one at a time. For detail some children chose to use torn colored paper to make the sun or clouds. Other organic material such as straw, pine needles and sand may be added to the bottom of the paper to make the ground.

In my classroom it is unthinkable to have an illustration without words so while glue is drying, off to their Draft Books they go. The stories that result from the creation of these leaf animals are charming. I attach the typed (very large font) stories to the bottom of their pictures and hang them on the wires above their desks.

Enjoy the samples made by my 1st Grade artists and writers. You'll have fun doing this project with your young creators too.

Until next month,