It seems fairly universal-kids love collecting rocks. I wasn't a rock-collecting kid, maybe because I grew up in the city. But both of my kids, and almost all of my friends kids seem to have a natural curiosity about rocks and express joy at finding special ones-shiny, red, streaked, black and white, smooth, heart-shaped, crystalline.
With the arrival of fall, leaf collecting becomes another natural fascination for kids. The brilliant red, gold and orange hues are breathtaking to kids of all ages, as is the enormity of fallen oak leaves. To make any collection manageable, a system for organizing it is necessary. Otherwise you will endlessly find rocks, for example, in your washing machine, little purses, in the bathroom, on window ledges, under beds-you get the picture. My recommendations for storing and displaying these beloved natural treasures:
Decorate a large shoebox to use as the storage place for your child's collection. If your child collects mostly smaller items, purchase or find a used hardware storage box, the kind with plastic drawers and compartments for storing nails, screws, etc. Use a paint pen to categorize the contents of each drawer-the name of the item, where found, date found, whatever is meaningful to your child.
Displaying brightly colored preserved leaves glued onto black construction paper is a winner. The contrast creates a sophisticated splash of nature that makes a lovely addition to any room.
To dry leaves the old-fashioned way:
1. Place leaf between two paper towels or blotting paper to remove moisture.
2. Place encased leaf in a big book you won't mind having stained, leaving about twenty pages between leaves.
3. Leave lying flat for seven days in dry room, changing paper towels on day two.
4. Once dry, place leaf between two sheets of wax paper.
5. Using a warm iron, iron the leaves for 3-4 minutes on each side, placing a used cloth between iron and wax paper.
6. Gently remove wax paper from leaves. A shiny, preserving coating will remain.
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