Make Raking Leaves Fun: Get Kids Involved in Garden Chores
Get Your Children to Help With Garden Raking
Raking leaves can be hard physical work. Gathering up large quantities of fallen leaves soon becomes a chore for most families. In the wild, the 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 can cause die-back on lawns and may become a slipping hazard on footpaths.
Children have lots of energy and it makes sense to involve them in this autumn activity. Encourage them by making the task into a game and they will be enthusiastic. Raking leaves is an opportunity to spend quality family time with your kids. Get them excited by the idea of raking leaves. It's great fun to rake the leaves into a pile and jump into them.
Garden Chore or Relaxing Fun
How do you clear the fallen leaves in your garden?
Kids Jumping in Pile of Leaves Compilation
Make It 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.
The Right Equipment Makes the Job Easy
You could use a traditional rake, but I recommend 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. Rugg leaf scoops
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 the activity. 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
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.