Make Raking Garden Leaves Fun for Kids

Updated on March 13, 2020
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Friends say I have "green-fingers," and the garden certainly responds to my efforts. I enjoy watching wildlife and being outdoors.

Kids enjoy raking leaves and it can be the start of a lifelong love of gardening.
Kids enjoy raking leaves and it can be the start of a lifelong love of gardening. | Source

Get Your Kids to Help With Garden Raking

Raking leaves is hard physical work. Gathering up fallen leaves soon becomes a burden for most families. So try to think of it as a "green gym." It's a free work-out rather than as a chore.

In the wild, leaves remain where they fall and provide a natural mulch and compost for the next generation of trees. In urban areas most gardeners choose to rake them up. If left where they fall, they cause die-back on lawns and may become a slipping hazard on footpaths.

Children have lots of energy and can help with this autumn activity. Encourage them by making it into a game and they will be enthusiastic. Sweeping up leaves and gardening are opportunities to spend quality family time with your kids. Get them excited by the idea of fall leaves. They will burn off lots of energy by raking leaves into a pile and have fun jumping into them.

How to Make Raking Leaves Easier

  1. Rake downwind. Use the wind to help not hinder your efforts.
  2. Use music to help you get in rhythm. Sing with your kids, or take a radio outside with you for a varied playlist.
  3. Many hands make the job go quicker. Get all the family involved and this chore will be done in next to no time.

The Right Equipment Makes the Job Easy

You could use a traditional rake, but I recommend Rugg leaf scoops to make the job more child-friendly. They make gathering leaves into heaps ready for bagging later as easy as ABC. The scoops are brightly colored and so cannot easily get lost inside a leaf-heap. Small hands will find them easy to manage and their large gathering capacity mean that results are quickly seen.

Don’t forget to make sure your kids are dressed for the task. A cold, whining child is not going to get enthusiastic about raking leaves no matter how fun you make it. If the leaves are wet and soggy then wellington boots are essential. Wearing warm gloves is a good idea too, but some kids take them off no matter how often you nag. Fingerless gloves or mittens can be a good compromise.

How to Pick up Leaves Fast With a Leaf Scoop

Make Garden Chores Into a Competition

Most children love the chance to beat their older siblings or their mom or pop at something. The task of raking leaves is ideal for this. The winner of this game is the one who can rake the most leaves into a heap in a given time (say half an hour). You can make allowances for younger kids by giving them an extra few minutes to complete the task.

Or you could make it slightly more difficult for older kids by directing them to an area where there are fewer fallen leaves. They will need to work faster to gather the same amount of leaves as their younger brother or sister who will be working where the leaves are thickest on the ground.

Build teamwork as you encourage kids to work together to rake fallen leaves.
Build teamwork as you encourage kids to work together to rake fallen leaves. | Source

Leaves And Their Trees: Simple Science For Kids

Children are naturally inquisitive. Raking leaves is a good time to see how many different types of trees grow in your garden. Kids can learn to identify tree species by collecting a leaf from each type of tree. Later these can be pressed and preserved for “show and tell” sessions.

There’s lots to learn about which trees are native to your area and the origin of any non-native trees growing there. Each species of tree grows into a unique shape. Your kids can learn how to identify trees from their silhouette even when all the leaves have fallen.

How to Identify Trees After Leaf Fall

Preserve and Press Colorful Fall Leaves

Oklahoma State University has a useful downloadable leaflet which details how to press and mount leaf samples. Leaves are dried by placing between layers of blotting paper and newspaper, before being pressed under heavy weights like books or bricks. The drying and pressing process takes several weeks to complete. The final product is brittle and is best glued to a board or card if it is to be shown at school.

Pressed leaves can also be used for creative crafts. The leaves can be used to create leaf prints and patterns or they can be used as stencils or collages to create artistic designs. Discussing the colors of the leaves and the life cycle of deciduous trees whilst you are raking the leaves may also lead to imaginative stories and poems being created.

Leaf Art For Kids: How to Make Animal Pictures With Leaves

Environmental Benefits of Raking Leaves

Many children care about the future of the planet. They want to do their bit to help the environment. Raking leaves from lawns helps the grass to grow and also means that the mulch (or leaf mold) created can be used to help other plants.

Raking leaves can be used as an introductory activity to environmental science. Discussing the benefits of leaf mold for gardens and cultivating plants can help kids understand nature’s regeneration cycle. Making leaf mold needs a bit of space to turn it into compost, but the magic can be done in a leaf bin or in black trash bags. It takes at least a year for the raked leaves to rot down and be ready for use.

Making your own compost means you will be able to use fewer chemicals (or better still, none at all.) The video below demonstrates how you can convert your leaves into a rich mulch that will make your garden greener and more environmentally-friendly.

How to Make Leaf Mold: Turn Fallen Leaves Into Gardener's Gold

Outdoor Time and Family Play

Encourage your kids with this garden chore by giving them a goal. Choose a team game to play with them after as a reward. Let them know you are excited to start playing, but fall leaves are covering the area that will be the pitch.

Tell them you all need to rake leaves before you can play; autumn leaves are in the way of family play-time. Everyone will be more enthusiastic about getting the raking finished if they know there is fun ahead for many fall days to come.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Submit a Comment
  • Beth Eaglescliffe profile imageAUTHOR

    Beth Eaglescliffe 

    11 months ago from UK

    I agree. Children enjoy playing outdoors and they love helping in the garden. Autumn leaves are a free play resource. So there are plenty of reasons to get kids burning up energy helping with this annual chore.

  • Eurofile profile image

    Liz Westwood 

    11 months ago from UK

    Having watched my 18 month old grandson playing in the garden last week, I have read your article with interest. I recall encouraging our children to help with clearing leaves.


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