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Pressed Leaf Coaster Photosynthesis Activity Kit Review by Dr. Anne Margaret Wright

Nature Watch
5312 Derry Avenue, Suite R
Agoura Hills, CA 91301-5004

Homeschoolers love hands-on projects. It's practically in our blood! There's something about having a project that a child can physically touch and work with that helps cement the learning in their fertile brains. That's why we were intrigued by the Pressed Leaf Coaster Project ($42.25 for 25 projects, or $159 for 100 projects) from Nature Watch. Think of it as a scientific craft project of sorts. The kit is simple enough. It contains enough supplies to make 25 coasters with various dried leaves. Each coaster has two pieces of plastic, for the top and bottom of the coaster, silver tape to hold the pieces together, and plastic feet for the bottom of the coaster. The kit contains enough dried leaves (including oak, fern, maple, willow, and ginkgo) for an average of three leaves per project. Finally, a four page Activities and Facts sheet explains the parts, types and functions of a leaf, as well as providing a summary of photosynthesis.

When we all woke up one Sunday morning in October sniffling, sneezing and coughing, it was clear church was out that morning. So we gathered around a box of Kleenex and decided to get an early start on our Christmas gifts by making the Pressed Leaf Coasters. The kit seems to be designed for a classroom as it contains supplies for 25 projects, but it would work equally well for a homeschool group or for gifts. It would be appropriate for elementary-age students, although older students would likely enjoy the project and learn much as well. As we assembled the coasters, we discussed the information from the Activities and Facts sheet. Our children cover a range of ages and developmental levels, so we tried to adapt the information to meet everyone's individual needs. The hands-on nature of the project really helped the kids think about the different parts of a leaf and understand the amazing design God placed in these small factories. We found the project easy to complete, except we had some trouble getting the silver tape to behave itself (the taping became the grown-ups' job after the first few coasters)! The information provided was clear and interesting, with helpful diagrams. It would be nice to have some explanation included about why many leaves change color in the autumn. The finished projects are lovely and very unique, with a great story the kids can tell to our friends and family who receive the coasters for Christmas this year. If you are looking for a hands-on project about leaves for your homeschool, the Pressed Leaf Coaster Project might be just the ticket!

Product review by Dr. Anne Margaret Wright, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2011