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By LittleLife on

Little Explorers: Leafy Lanterns

  • Little Explorers
Little Explorers: Leafy Lanterns

The spectacle of the autumn leaves is fading fast, mulching into a brown sludge under our feet as we trudge through the rain. We decided to try and preserve a little of the colourful beauty this week by creating leafy lanterns.

You will need:

  • A collection of autumn leaves – different colours, sizes and shapes
  • Recycled plastic milk bottles or empty glass jars
  • Sticky backed plastic
  • Candles

Our Little Explorers are finding the relentless rain and wind very unappealing this week so we togged up in our full waterproof gear and scurried out to collect the prettiest leaves we could find. Once we had returned to hibernation indoors, we laid the leaves carefully on kitchen towel to dry out.

Getting ready to get creative!

Finding empty milk bottles at LittleLife HQ is never a problem, with milk-obsessed children and plenty of cups of tea going down. But if you’re really organised and have a collection of glass jars to use, so much the better!

The Little Explorers were helped to carefully cut the labels off the bottles, then measured and cut a rectangle of sticky backed plastic to fit snugly around the walls of the bottle. Despite the sticky backed plastic being tightly wound up, we found that when the paper was peeled off, it lay flat on the table, much to our relief. We had envisaged all sorts of dramas with plastic sticking to children’s sleeves, the table, the floor, hair… it was all much simpler than that.

Our raw materials

The Little Explorers chose their favourite leaves and stuck them topside down on to the plastic in their chosen designs. With a little assistance they wound the leaf decorated plastic securely around the bottles and jars. We then popped a candle inside and hey presto! Our leaf lanterns were ready. We’re going to experiment and see how long the leaves retain their vibrant colours.

Littlest Explorer decided that stuffing as many leaves as he could into one jar was far more enjoyable than sticking them on to the plastic, so that was fun too. We discovered that the jar quickly warmed up - Expert Explorers can find out why at the end of the story, below.

Littlest explorer liked collecting as many leaves as possible in a glass jar!

The lanterns should be ready to go! You could use a safety first LED candle, but we decided on a real flame. Of course you should never leave an open flame with an unattended child (we know you’d never do that!) but with an adult present, the flickering light is so soothing. We’re aiming for the Danish concept of hygge here! Hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”) means cosiness, comfort, and enjoying tech-free time with the people you love the most. It’s our ideal state of mind!

The beautiful leafy lanterns complete!

Expert Explorers: Here’s a survival tip for you – if you’re stuck in a blizzard, climb into a compost pile to stay warm! But watch out because a grass heap in Andover spontaneously caught alight last week! The leaves in Littlest Explorer’s jar were warming up as they started decomposing. Bacteria in the leaves were converting the raw material into heat and carbon dioxide. Compost can get up to a staggering 100 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (40-60 degrees Celsius) as it brews.

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