Whatever happened to …

… leaf games?

Not to be confused with Leaf games, which is another topic.

It’s started around here.  Usually, it’s the big maple tree out back that starts to drop its leaves.  At this point, they’re still green which always confuses me.  Shouldn’t they have changed colour to autumn gold, orange, or red before falling?

But it has indeed started.  Just enough falling to make it feasible to mulch them with the lawn mower.  There will come a time when that won’t do the trick though and leaf management becomes a big job.

As a youngster though, leaves falling were just plain fun.  We’d do all kinds of things with them.

  • glue them to presentation boards as highlights for school projects
  • take turns shoving them down the back of friends’ shirts so that they itched and were annoyances, not in a bully fashion but it was just the thing to do.  It certainly made for some itchy classroom days if it was your turn to be on the receiving end
  • we’d rake them into a huge pile and then bury ourselves in them or just use it as our own high jump pit.  The net result was still leaves that filled your clothes and itched
  • help dad rake them to the front yard where we’d have a big pile of leaves
  • then, when he wasn’t looking, we’d come speeding down the hill on our bikes and drive through the pile sending them everywhere (which resulted in going back to the previous step)
  • taking a bunch and stuffing old pants and shirts and making leaf people that we would sit on the lawn chairs on the front porch (a pumpkin was involved too)
  • related to the above, my mom would always have a fall theme going on with our front window and it involved carefully placed leaves
  • throughout the town, everyone would rake their leaves to a pile at the front of their yards and would burn them.  I distinctly remember the smell of burning leaves and the smoke that it generated
  • again with the bikes, driving through burning piles of leaves upped the danger factor a great deal

Much of this fun doesn’t exist anymore.  By bylaw in many places, you can’t burn leaves but rather have to rake them and place them into bags that are then collected for composting.  Much of the fun and joy above doesn’t exist.  Besides, I’m not sure that I would do that to my current bicycle.

For a Sunday, do you have any leafy memories?

  • could there be a more perfect decoration for school projects?
  • are you still able to burn leaves or does your community insist on other ways to get rid of your fall collection?
  • do you have a favourite colour for a fall leaf?
  • just how long does an oak leaf last?
  • have you started raking and doing other leaf maintenance things already?
  • do you do your own composting?
  • does your community have a composting program?
  • if you or your community compost, do you access it in the spring when you’re planting?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.  No matter who you are or where you live, autumn leaves have to factor into your life somehow.

This is part of a regular Sunday morning series of memories.  You can access them all here and contribute to the Padlet if you have a great idea for a post.

Published by dougpete

The content of this blog is created by me at the keyboard or as a result of an aggregator of my daily reading under the title OTR Links. On Fridays, look for my signature post "This Week in Ontario Edublogs" where I try to share some great writing from Ontario Educators. The other regular post appears Sunday mornings as I try to start a conversation about things that have gone missing from our daily lives.

7 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. Doug, I’m not sure that I can answer all of your questions, but I will say that in Kindergarten, leaf games are still popular. We’ve added leaves to our sensory bin before, used them for some nature art (our kids love that), take leaf prints, painted with leaves as a provocation, and the kids even make piles of them for jumping in our forest space. It’s nice to see a little bit of our childhood still alive and well at school, even if these leaves are eventually taken away.


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  2. I’m so glad to hear this and your students are so lucky to go to school with a “forest space”. Not all schools are that lucky. Imagine having to take a field trip just to get a bit of nature.

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  3. I agree, Doug, but leaves are found everywhere (or so it seems). I once taught at a school with no grass. All you saw was blacktop all around you. But there were still leaves, and they actually got kids talking and playing in other ways. This was the first school where I saw Kindergarten children making piles of leaves to jump in without a suggestion to do so, and even using leaves as food items in their watery pretend cakes. They also loved chasing the leaves as the wind blew them. I do wish that forest spaces were more readily available for kids — the possibilities for risk-taking, oral language opportunities, gross motor development, and authentic math and science opportunities are huge — but I also think we have to find and do what we can with the spaces we have. Looking back now on my last teaching experience, I realize how much more we could have done in that outdoor space. A blog post, perhaps? Thanks for getting me thinking more!



  4. Let’s call that post “Bring a leaf to school”! I have to laugh at your comment that leaves are everywhere. That’s particularly true when you’re outside raking them. There still is something special about having real trees dropping their payload this time of year.

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  5. No burning leaves allowed in our city. I sure remember it in my childhood though!

    I love a leaf with a good mix of changing colours, but hard not to be in awe of full reds.

    Those stubborn oak trees! I have seen oak leaves hanging on well into the bitter winter temperatures in Tbay. I saw one on the ground yesterday and I am quite sure it is one that fell off in March! No colour left, but still had its shape haha

    No raking yet… and I will hold off fall themed decorating until the end of Sept. Well, maybe on the 23rd..

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  6. Hey Doug,
    As always your posts seem so timely. Today on my way home from church I noticed a few trees in the neighbourhood who have started to show your beautiful fall colors. I couldn’t help but recall several projects that I had to complete as a child where we would go out into the neighbourhood and find several fall leaves. We then needed to place the leaves in between two pieces of wax paper and iron them . To be honest, I don’t recall what the intended learning outcome was… But what I do remember was that it was a project that my mom and I needed to do together (hot irons and safety) . Sometimes it is those unintended outcomes (special time with a parent) which are just as meaningful as the curriculum outcomes.

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