Rake n’ Make

Celebrate Michigan’s beautiful fall season while exploring science, math, and art.

Prep It

All you need is a beautiful fall day and a grocery bag.

Play It

Go on an outdoor adventure with the children in your care. In a bag, gather lots and lots of leaves of different colors, shapes, and sizes.

Color Hunt

Actions as simple as gathering leaves can be turned into learning opportunities! Send children on a scavenger hunt for leaves of specific colors, shapes, or sizes.

“Go find as many RED leaves as you can.” “Now, go find as many TINY ones as you can.”

Next, count how many of each type you have together.

  • Preschoolers should practice counting one at a time. Help them count each leaf individually so that none are skipped or double counted.
  • Kindergartners should practice counting up to 100. Help them with the transitions from 29 to 30, 39 to 40, and so on.
  • First graders can practice skip counting by twos, so that they count “2, 4, 6, 8.”

Red Leaves & Green Leaves

Free Sort

Direct children to sort their bag of leaves. Tell them to “make groups,” but don’t tell them how to do it. This is an opportunity for them to stretch their brains! What do they decide to do? Do they sort by color? Shape? Size?

Push their thinking. Ask, “How are you deciding which leaf goes in which group?”

Spikey Leaves & Round Leaves

Pattern Making

Work together to make leaf patterns. If children sorted their leaves by color, you could work together to make patterns by color. If they sorted by size or shape, make patterns by size or shape.

Yellow/ Green Pattern & Spikey/ Round Pattern

Pattern Challenge

Time for a challenge! Make a complex pattern that is long or has many patterns within it.

Ask children to analyze, “What patterns do you notice?”

Can you spot the three different patterns in this image?

Small/ Big
Green/ Yellow/ Red
Round/ Round/ Pointy


Think of a new method of organizing the leaves- you could try by texture (bumpy or smooth), width, length, or by a combination of color and size (big and red or small and yellow). Invite children to match leaves from their bags to the groups you made. For example, if you grouped leaves by width, have the children look through their bags to find thin and wide leaves to add to your groups.

Say, “Explain how you know which group to place that leaf in.”

Ephemeral Art

For a fun challenge, design leaf art like artists Andy Goldsworthy and James Brunt do! Give children lots of time to create their art. As they are making, ask them about their designs.

Say, “tell me about your design.” Ask questions like: “What is the pattern?” “How do you decide which leaf to put next?” “What makes your design special?”

James Brunt
James Brunt
Andy Goldsworthy
Andy Goldsworthy

The PEP team loves seeing the art you make with the children in your care!

Send us photos or tag us on social media!