Autumn provides us with so many beautiful colours. Acorns and Conkers, spiky sweet chestnut shells and leaves of amber, gold and scarlet make enticing loose parts for children to explore as well as providing decoration for our homes.
In this Blog post I will share a simple way to make some of these colours last a little bit longer by sharing the steps for preserving autumn leaves in beeswax. It is a really simple and satisfying process and easy to involve the whole family collecting leaves to use even if the waxing itself is best left to older family members.
What you will need….
Beeswax pellets (or grated beeswax from a block)
A double boiler pot or heavy glass bowl
Fresh autumn leaves
How to wax the leaves….
First place a handful of beeswax pellets in the double boiler pan or glass bowl and stand in a saucepan of water. Heat on the hob. The water will start to boil and the wax will then begin to melt. Keep the water simmering until all the wax has melted.
When the wax has melted, you can remove from the hob, returning to the heat if the wax starts to solidify. Lay out your greaseproof paper on a flat surface next to you and you are ready to start coating the leaves.
Using tongs, pick up each leaf individually and dip it into the wax. Let excess wax drip back into the pan before transferring the leaf to the greaseproof paper to set. It only takes a matter of minutes for the wax to cool and the leaves are ready to use. It is as simple as that!
Simple play and learning ideas for your waxed leaves….
Of course you could just add thread to the waxed leaves and hang them up to become seasonal decorations, make wreaths or just display in a basket or bowl but they are also an excellent learning resource. Here are just a few ways you could use the leaves with young children.
It is very easy to use a hole punch to cut holes in the leaves and this can lead on to threading activities; weaving in and out creating a pattern on a single leaf or joining leaves together in different ways.
Add some numbers and the leaves can be used for simple counting activities. Holes can be punched in leaves to correspond with a value for matching games or children can punch the right number of holes themselves.
Just adding the leaves to small world set ups can enhance play and build on the imagination. The leaves are more robust when coated and so they won’t tear or dry out and crumble in the way an unpreserved leaf would.
How about making a little book with leaves for the cover and paper pages? perfect for recording some autumn adjectives in or writing a story for the gnomes!