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Pressing Leaves with Little Collectors

Children are natural scientists and collectors. A wonderful way to channel these inclinations is by preserving and putting their natural treasures to good use.

After your leaf walk, press and your child’s favorite leaves to add to your craft supplies for various projects.

Regardless of the method you use to press the leaves (we’ll share a few different ways below), here are some general tips: 

  • Use clean, dry leaves. Don’t collect leaves after a big rain, and make sure to wipe off each leaf with a paper towel before pressing. You want to remove dirt and excess moisture!
  • Flat leaves are easier to press. Try to choose leaves that don’t have a lot of bumps on them – they won’t press as well. 
  • Newsprint or parchment paper are both good options no matter the type of press you use. Really, any acid-free paper will work.
  • Lay leaves in the press without overlapping them.
  • Keep leaves in the press for a few days up to a week.
  • Once the leaves have been pressed, store them in a plastic container or bag away from direct sunlight.

There are a few different ways you can press leaves:

  1. Purchase a leaf press (this one is our absolute favorite).
  2. Make a homemade leaf press. We promise it’s not as hard as it sounds!
  3. Do it the old-fashioned way – between the pages of a book.

How to Make a Homemade Leaf Press

You’ll need:

  • 2 Pieces of Plywood, 4×4 up to 18×18
  • Cardboard, (cut to the same size)
  • Newsprint,  (cut to the same size)
  • 4 Clamps or 1-2 Belts

On top of the plywood, add layers in this order: cardboard, several pieces of newsprint, leaves, several pieces of newsprint. Repeat these layers until you have arranged all of your leaves. Finish the stack by putting the second piece of plywood on the top. Clamp all four corners of the leaf press together or fasten 1-2 belts around the middle of the press to secure everything in place. That’s it! 

The Old-Fashioned Way 

This is by far the easiest (and least expensive) way to press your leaves. Again, layering is key!

Sandwich your leaves in between two pieces of paper and place it between the pages of a large, thick book. You’ll want to choose a book that you don’t mind getting dirty, because the moisture from the leaves could seep through onto the pages. If you’re pressing more leaves inside the book, just make sure to leave a few pages in between each grouping. When you’re done layering, put a stack of books on top and wait!

No matter which technique you choose, you have plenty of time to start dreaming up all the different things you can do with your preserved leaves.

Resources and Inspiration (members only):

 

 

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Playful Learning Field Guides

Grab these handy field guides on your way to park or walk around the block. Add a basket for collecting and a magnifying glass for observing you are set for a memorable outdoor adventure