Create a character

Inspire young writers with this supercharged autumn imagination booster.  

Learning Stages

By Maxine Adams


Who knew a leaf could bring so much meaning to the world of writing? Here’s a great Fall activity that brings a little nature into the classroom or your home.

You will need:

  • Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
  • Leaves of varying sizes, shapes and colors
  • Small accents in nature (acorns, seeds, twigs, small pebbles)
  • Liquid glue
  • Watercolors or crayons
  • Paper

Poetry begins with an object or person that brings colorful words to mind. For first graders the most appealing thing about writing poetic ideas is the length—for this activity, students are required to put down just one idea.

After reading Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert, ask your child to re-create their own leaf person and have them describe where the wind takes their creation. Encourage them to use their imaginations—their character can go anywhere.

First grade is filled with varying levels. One student writes, “My leaf fish is swimming in the water,” while another writes, “Leaf man is laying down on the green grass gazing at the sky,” but each student is able to establish a seed idea. Take a simple idea (“My leaf man is flying”) and ask what, where and how questions to help bring the idea to life.

Then ask them to paint or draw a picture of their words. Markers are useful in this activity so students don't spend time trying to form the perfect letter and instead focus on the idea. (Pencils, editing and final copies are introduced later on in the year after students have become confident writers.)
These leaf designs make me smile. I love the lips on the leaf butterflies!