Children like explosions of different sorts. They are forms of entertainment. Not least, the whole story of Guy Fawkes always held appeal for me. The whole idea of attempting to blow up the Houses of Parliament I found quite thought-provoking for a child. Many anarchists argue that he was the only man to enter Parliament with honest intentions. If I remember correctly, he only made it as far as the cellar next-door.
Several months ago, there was a wonderful post on the Bowerbird Blue blog. It was all about the artist Fong Qi Wei who creates exploding flower pictures. As Kirsty, the author of the blog, illustrated, this activity is a valuable plant dissecting opportunity that’s goes hand in hand with experimental art work.
Like all teachers, I have a tendency to copy and adapt. It was autumn time and one class had been busy collecting leaves. The trick with leaf collecting is to press the leaves as soon as you get back inside the class. Put the leaves between sheets of kitchen roll or toilet paper and put inside a hard-backed book. Pile lots of other books on top to add weight. Leave for one week. When the leaves are removed, they are crisp, flat and have kept their colour. It is much easier to work with flat dried leaves.
I experimented beforehand in my house to find out how easy it was to make leaves explode. It was very doable, even for children whose fine coordination may not be especially good. It was also possible to tear the leaves too.
What did happen was that we got lots of varieties of ideas. One child even used serrated scissors which added a different effect. Have a look at the leaf in the top corner of the photo:
The other thing which happens with leaves which have been exploded is that some children also like trying to put the leaves back together. It’s a nature jigsaw and surprisingly challenging.
There is a surprising amount of decision-making which comes into this activity – do you follow the veins and natural segments of a leaf when cutting it up? Or do you try and cut it up any old how? The other dilemma is deciding whether you want an organised explosion (as I chose with the leaves on the navy background) or a boom effect – the equivalent of taking your leaf cuttings, throwing them into the air and seeing where they land on paper. The possibilities are more than I had considered at first.
Whilst I know we are well into winter, I just wanted to blog about this so that I didn’t forget.