A few years ago I joked in a blogging group, “It’s December and the leaves finally fell off the trees here in Texas, should I make a fall leaves post?” We all laughed, or I should say I got lots of laugh emoticons on the post, but it’s true. By the time we get falling leaves here in Texas, everyone is tired of reading about leaves. However, for us it worked out perfectly because we’d just finished studying botany, and I had a perfect activity to go with our “fall leaves:” learning how to identify leaves and compare them.
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Getting ready for our identifying leaves activity
This was a final activity for our CKE Biology botany unit, so I used this partially as a check on their knowledge. We went on a walk and picked up as many different types of leaves as we found walking through our neighborhood. Then I pulled out my white napkins that never get used for meals because they might get stained, let’s use the dark ones that hide the stains. It’s so much better to use them for crafts and science lessons where I need a white background.
I might be a little weird.
What we did for our identifying and comparing leaves activity
As I mentioned in my little mini napkin rant, we spread the leaves out on the napkin. Then I asked questions and made them make observations:
- Arrange your leaves by shape.
- Look at the colors (our area isn’t known for colorful fall leaves, so ours were all brown)
- How did the leaves dry? Different types of leaves dried differently.
- Which leaves are most common? That was easy, we live in the hill country of Texas, live oak.
- Compare sizes. Our live oak leaves are relatively small, and they actually usually lose their leaves at a different time of year.
- Identify tree source. This looks like a good book for this: Tree Finder, if you’re in Texas I love this Trees of Central Texas pamphlet, I have several of the pamphlets in this series and use them frequently.
The kids had a blast looking through and comparing our leaves. In some ways, it reminded me of our shell sorting lesson we did when we studied swimming creatures. After we’d talked through all of my different ideas, and they’d talked through their ideas (which sadly I don’t remember what they said because it’s been over a year since we did this, yes I am a bit behind writing this), we moved on to the next part.
Leaf art project
I asked each kid to pick their favorite leaf and trace around it using a pencil. Then we sketched in a loose idea of a tree trunk, and we colored in some leaves.
I took a few minutes to show them how you can make it look like lots of individual leaves by drawing lots of little lines in different green colors, and then lightly coloring over it all with another shade of green.
We then used this as the cover for their botany test. I had them draw/write out what they learned with some rather detailed and confusing trees.
They got all of the important details, I’m actually thinking I might show the kids their reports I can find now (I only have two of them, sadness) because it’s rather amusing how each kid made theirs.
Princess made hers into an envelope that she very carefully folded up her report in. Batman just flipped his over and drew all of his details on that side.