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Lessons In The Leaves

October 9, 2023

As the mornings become more crisp and the leaves change into colors of autumn, the kids and I enjoy walking and conversing together.

“That’s pretty much the biggest tree I’ve ever seen!” Hud exclaimed as he examined a magnolia tree.
It brought back wonderful memories of climbing my grandmother’s magnolia, going as high as we could, conquering the majestic tower of branches.

He picked up a leaf and said, “I think I’ll keep this one.”
“What do you like about it?” I asked.
“It’s big…”
“What are other adjectives, or describing words, for the leaf?” I questioned, purposefully using a part of speech, and being somewhat proud of myself.
“Green, smooth, shiny, pretty, & it came from a ginormous tree!” he said excitedly. This mama was proud. Then I had an idea…
He was so enamored with the leaves & trees, so we should collect leaves, rocks, flowers, clovers, & whatever we can find for a craft.

Hello, fun lesson!
“Well, go ahead & keep that leaf, & we’ll find other things we like, too! Like a nature hunt!”
“Yeah, Mommy! Let’s do that!”

We walked back to the house & grabbed an old bucket to begin our search.
“Oh, Mommy! Look at that! They’re like flower pillows! What is that?”
“Those are my hydrangeas. Pick one if you’d like!”

He added that to his bucket with a big grin. We talked about the different colors they come in, and he used more adjectives to describe them so willingly. He was genuinely excited to be learning and exploring. What four-year-old doesn’t like to pick things up off the ground and get dirty, after all?

We explored some more, and he noticed the falling leaves and changing colors. This brought on the new vocabulary word foliage, and he was able to put together the pieces of learning about the seasons. As conversation progressed about foliage, seasons, and weather, it then led to hibernation and migration. More vocabulary words! More learning opportunities!
I thought, “This is schooling at its best. We’re having intentional, hands-on conversations in God’s beautiful world, learning in a way that will stick with us.”

After an hour in the cool morning air, we decided we had enough in our bucket to make a craft. I got out our paints, and we laid out each leaf, flower, herb, and twig we could find.
“Let’s change the leaves' colors with our paint!”
Instead of telling Hud what to do, I picked up my paintbrush and a leaf, and I started my imprinting. He watched me and started doing it, too! He needed no instruction because he observed and did it himself.
He giggled, “I’m going to make this leaf purple and yellow!”

He painted with his little dimpled hands, and I smiled and enjoyed watching his creative mess.
“Look at this one, Mommy! It’s a blue leaf! It kind of looks like the pillow flowers… the hydrangea.”
I listened to him recount everything he had just learned and apply it to his art. He intricately laid each painted piece on the paper, and then gently peeled it off. Even though the leaves will die and we’ll have to throw these all out, he’ll be able to look at his picture and see each thing we found together.
We wanted to keep going, so we painted our hands and made them into leaves, too, only using the colors of fall foliage. He noticed, “look- our hands have lines like the leaves do.”
He was so observant & full of wonder.

The hand-prints were my favorite part of our crafts, because someday his sweet, little hands will turn into big, strong man hands. These little hand-prints will be a glimpse for me to remember how small he once was, and how special our time was together.

“I’m never going to throw these away, and I’ll always remember this day when I look at them,” I thought.
I’ll look back on our lessons, our walks, and conversations. I’ll remember the twinkle in his eyes and his willingness to learn.

Being a mother is such a holy privilege and our time is so precious
So, my Mama friend reading this, I encourage you to be intentional and so present with your children. Put your phone down, your book, your laundry basket, and understand that it will still be there, but these moments are fleeting.

God has given you a blessing and a duty, so own it, be obedient, and enjoy the beautiful nature walks and messy crafts.
I know the Lord smiled upon me on that crisp morning, and a few foliage and season changes from now, I’ll be in this same spot obedient, full of gratitude, and collecting leaves with my children.

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