Fall is a time of change. The days get much shorter, the temperature drops, and the leaves start to change. Driving through the countryside is beautiful. The many colors of the trees along the road make what was once a lush, verdant vista one of a whole hue of colors and tones. These changes are what we come to expect from fall and this last burst of color brightens up the landscape before it descends into a monochromatic winter wonderland.
Temperature, moisture, and sunlight have an influence on the quality and length of the display of fall color. Sunny, cool days cause the chlorophyll to break down quickly. Cool temperatures at night with lots of sunlight during the day promote the production of the red and purple pigments. Cold nights, warm sunny days and dry conditions during the autumn are ideal conditions for a spectacular display of fall leaves. Cold temperatures at night that produce frost break down the mechanisms that produce the red and purple hues. Early frost means an early end to the fall colors.
Fall is a great time to get out and teach kids about the beauty of nature and is an opportunity to bring some of that beauty inside. There are several ways to preserve leaves, but there are two methods that are very easy to do with kids.
The first is by far the fastest and easiest. Using wax paper to seal the leaves is very simple and only takes about ten minutes to finish each leaf. All you need is wax paper,an iron, a thin towel or thick piece of paper, and the leaves you want to preserve. Place the leaf between two pieces of wax paper and put it under the towel or paper. Use the iron to melt the wax paper until it is sealed (2- 5 minutes each side). Once the wax paper is sealed you have two options. 1)You can try and peel the wax paper away from the leaf leaving a thin film of wax on the leaf. If this works, the leaf should have a waxy coating over the entire leaf. 2) Or you can cut the wax paper around the leaf leaving a thin strip of the wax paper to ensure it remains sealed.
The second method is to preserve the leaves in a glycerine solution. This process takes up to a week to finish, but the results are a soft, pliable preserved leaf. For this method, you will need to purchase some glycerine (also called glycerol); it is easy to find and relatively inexpensive. Mix one part glycerine with two parts water and soak the leaf you want to preserve. Be sure and weigh the leaf down, so it stays submerged in the solution the entire time. When you think you have a finished leaf, dry it off gently. When the process has finished, the leaf should be soft and pliable.
This is an excellent way to help kids of all ages preserve the beauty of nature.
If you have any questions about preserving fall colors or natural resources, contact : Jason Haupt, Energy and Environmental Stewardship Educator, University of Illinois Extension, (309) 547-3711, firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Bringing brilliant fall colors indoors —