We’ll soon be enjoying hikes through the woods with all the leaves changing colors – even if it’s only at a local park. You may find beautiful fallen leaves from maples, aspens, birch, oaks, hickory, and more.
Challenging the youngsters to collect the most colorful leaves or the most unusual fallen mast like nuts and fruits keeps them enthusiastic while teaching at the same time. Bring the leaves home and preserve them so the kids can use them in school art projects and you can include them in great bring-the-outdoors-indoors home decorations all the way through Thanksgiving.
Simply pressing a leaf between the pages of a book will dry it flat, but eventually it will crumble. There are a couple of ways to ensure they last much longer.
The simplest method is to use ordinary wax paper and a warm iron. Put the leaf between two sheets of wax paper larger than the leaf and smooth them on the ironing board. Lay a dishtowel or thick sheet of paper over the top of the stack. With a warm iron press down to seal the sheets of wax paper together. This will usually take a few minutes. Once one side is well adhered to the leaf, flip it over and iron the other side under the towel. You can either cut carefully around the leaf to leave the wax paper in place (sort of like laminating) or you can try to carefully peel the paper, leaving only a thin coat of wax on both sides of the leaf.
Another way is to use the microwave oven, but be danged careful not to start the leaf on fire! Simply place leaves that haven’t dried on their own between a couple of paper towels. Microwave in short bursts of 10 seconds at a time. The drier the leaves, the less time they will need. If the leaves curl when you take them out of the microwave they haven’t gone long enough. Don’t let them scorch. When the leaves are thoroughly dried, hit them up with a light coat of spray acrylic on each side.
A simple leaf can bring back a flood of memories from wonderful family time outdoors. Properly preserved they can do just that for many years to come.
LeafSnap Free App
Back when Gramps was in school, learning to identify trees required years of study and rote memorization. Today, there’s an app for that!
Available for iPhones and iPads, it’s called LeafSnap. Once you’ve downloaded and opened the app you simply photograph a leaf of the tree in question. LeafSnap uses visual recognition software to aid in identification of the tree. Also included are beautiful high-resolution images of leaves, flowers, fruits, petioles, seeds, and bark.
Developed in a cooperative effort between Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution, LeafSnap is available for free download at the AppStore.