It is best to do the leaf series from mid-October to mid-November to see the changing color of the leaves. Students are divided into four groups. Time frame for this series is approximately 2 hours.

Conceptual Framework: Observation, Plant classification

Students learn all about leaf structure and physical adaptations doing this series of activities.

Activity One: Looking at Leaves
Activity Two: Name That Tree
Activity Three: Signs of Fall
Activity Four: The Closer You Look

Looking at Leaves

  1. Docent will give students 2 minutes to collect a few different types of fallen leaves.
  2. Have students make crayon rubbings of their leaves.
  3. Ask the students when they are finished: What are the differences in the leaves? What are the similarities?, Do any have teeth?, Are any needle-like? What do they feel like?,
    Who found the largest and smallest leaves?
  4. Have students pass their leaves to another student and have them try to figure out which tree they came from.
  5. Take students to several of the trees they collected leaves from and ask them: What pattern do the leaves grow in? Do they grow close together or far apart? How many needles per fascicle in evergreen leaves? What does the bark look like? What is the fruit like? Use a key or field book to help them identify the leaves they collected.

Name That Tree

  1. Docent will pass out identification sheets and clue sheets to each pair of students.
  2. Instruct students to look within certain boundaries for the trees on these sheets and write down the corresponding number by the name of the tree.
  3. Students will take 15 minutes to analyze the trees and try to identify them.
  4. Group will gather together and go to the trees one by one and talk about what each is and what the key characteristics are for that tree.
  5. Docent will have students tell what parts of a tree can be used in identifying it.

Signs of Fall

  1. Docent will pass out crayons and student pages.
  2. Docent will instruct students to find the answers to the questions on their student sheet including the different colors of leaves you see, what fallen leaves do for the soil, if all trees lose their leaves at the same time, if there are any weather changes that cause the trees to change.
  3. Group with reconvene and discuss the changes trees undergo during the fall and the answers to the questions on the student sheet.

The Closer You Look

  1. Pass out crayons and paper to each student and give them 5 minutes to draw a picture of a tree.
  2. Explain that today we will take a more detailed look at trees and then draw another picture.
  3. Talk about tree shapes, leaf shapes and colors, bark, buds, & twig arrangement.
  4. Send students to choose a tree and closely examine it, noting the details discussed.
  5. Have them to make another drawing including these details.
  6. Compare the first and second drawings to see the difference.