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Observations. The key to creating thinking.

3 children sat relaxing in dried autumn leaves at the base of a tree
Photo credit: Marcus Wallis on Unsplash

Happy September!

How did the rest of the year seem to pass so quickly? It just seems, doesn’t it, that with each passing year, the months fly by?! or is that just me?! Lol!

So, here we are again heading into Autumn or Fall – my favourite time of the year! 😃 I just love watching the leaves turn colour on the trees and then fall into scrunch-able pools around the trunks. At the moment, sitting here, it hasn’t changed – it’s still hot and some of my garden flowers seem to be going into another round of bloom! – but gradually I know this will change and it’s that expectation that I love!

So this week is the perfect time to talk about OBSERVATION.

Observation is a key element of creativity. If we wind back the process from the result of our creative thoughts to where they came from, our observations would be there. Understanding the world around us and each aspect in detail helps our brain make those connections I’ve spoken about before [read about it here]

About 10 years ago, my family and I visited Le Clos Lucé in Amboise, France. It was the final home of Leonardo da Vinci – a place he was invited to live by King Francis I of France in 1516 until his death in 1519. The exhibition about his life was absolutely fascinating and gave a true insight into this extraordinary man.

The thing that struck me the most was how he observed everything in the minutest detail and then how this triggered the inventions and artwork that we know about today. He used the natural world and the human body to truly understand the "why" behind each and every thing. Leonardo was way ahead of his time, but we can learn so much from him and observation is the most important in my opinion.


Spring or Autumn are the best times to start the observation process as they are both seasons of the biggest change and a great little activity you can do with children is to DRAW A TREE. Wait until the leaves are starting to turn and go to the woods or park (or even look out of a window!) and decide on one tree to draw and colour.

The aim here is to look carefully at the colours and the size of the tree if you have chosen a small one. For younger children, you could draw the trunk and they could use colour to express the leaves however they want. The key here is to get them looking.


Draw the same tree in winter, spring and summer – yes! A whole year’s worth of observation! Mark your calendar for 3 month’s time and head out to the same tree and do the same thing. During the year you can compare and discuss what has changed and even talk about what might happen next time. It’s a great way to get the conversation started about cycles and could lead anywhere!

ANOTHER IDEA... to EXPLORE LEAVES – their textures and patterns. With leaves falling from the tress it’s easy to collect them and use them to really look at in detail. Older children can sketch them, noticing the number of veins and the style of leaf, e.g. the serrations along the edge or the blend of colour. Leonardo began to notice how many leaves grew from each nodule, how many veins they had and where the veins grew from. Maybe your child could find a pattern between specific types of leaf?

Younger children could use a crayon to make leaf rubbings, then cut them out to make a leafy collage picture. How about a life size paper tree for their room?!!

Maybe, just by going and doing these couple of simple activities, your child might have some ideas of their own, so let them go with it!

Enjoy the start of the season!

Debbie x

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