Fall is the perfect time to start a leaf collection. Take your child for a walk around the block and admire the leaves that you see. Notice how many leaves are on the ground versus how many are still on the trees. What does that say about the time of the year? Is winter here yet?
How many colors of leaves can you count? Pick up a leaf and notice what makes it unique. Leaves are identified in part by their shapes (like round, oval, triangular) and their edges (spiky, wavy, jagged).
If you live someplace where the seasons barely change and colored leaves are rare, have your child write to a friend or relative and ask that person to send some fall leaves your way. Your child will be thrilled. One of my favorite childhood memories is of my father bringing me home colored leaves from a business trip to Boston. (Thanks, Dad!)
To dry your leaves, place a paper towel on the counter. Arrange your leaves on the paper towel so that none of them are touching. Place another paper towel over the leaves and a heavy book over that. The book will flatten the leaves and the paper towels will absorb any moisture. After a day or two, your leaves will be dry.
To make a leaf rubbing, lay a sheet of paper over your leaf. Take the side of a crayon and rub gently over the paper. A leaf shape should soon appear.
You can also take a piece of contact paper, lay the leaves on it, and lay another sheet of contact paper over them to make a placemat for the table. If you don't want a placemat, cut out the contact paper-wrapped leaves and punch a hole at the top. Let your child hang the preserved leaves around the house.