Autumn Series #5
Seasonal Tree Challenge: Leaves
Inside Preparation Work:
- Read pages 618-622 in the Handbook of Nature Study (section at the beginning of the Tree Study pages including Parts of the Tree and The Way a Tree Grows). This will be a review if you have done previous tree studies using the Outdoor Hour Challenges. Pay special attention this time to the function of the leaf.
- Page 622 has a brief explanation in the The Way a Tree Grows section explaining why leaves turn colors in the autumn. You may wish to view the YouTube video listed in the extra resources section below to gain a little more understanding of this phenomenon. Page 623 (Lesson 174) in the Handbook of Nature Study gives suggestions for an autumn study of a tree. Read and choose one or two questions to answer when you go outdoors.
- Print out the Glossary of Leaf Shapes from the extra resources below. I suggest picking two categories from the glossary to go over with your children, perhaps the leaf shapes and leaf margins would be a great place to start. At the very least, familiarize yourself with the vocabulary so you can start to use it in your nature study.
Compare Leaves from Two Different Trees
• Leaf shape and leaf margins.
• Leaf arrangement on the stem.
• Leaf color, texture, and size. (You can measure if you wish.)
Outdoor Hour Time:
Use your Outdoor Hour time to observe trees and their leaves. If you are having some fall colors, you might like to ask your children to tell you all the colors they see and then share a little of the information about why a leaf changes color. Be sure to observe the place that the leaves are joined to the tree and you can talk about what change takes place before a leaf will fall off naturally (information in the YouTube video listed below). Use the suggestions above to compare your leaves and how they are arranged on the tree’s branches. Choose a few leaves to bring indoors for your follow-up activity. Try to gather leaves from two different trees so you can compare and contrast.
Now that you gathered your leaves and made some outdoor observations, do some more close-up viewing of your leaves. Perhaps you can use a hand lens to get a better view of the leaf and its colors. Use the suggestions above to continue making comparisons of your leaves and complete a Venn Diagram with your observations. Use the notebook page provided in the ebook or your own blank nature journal to record your study. You can make leaf rubbings (How to Make a Leaf Rubbing video) if you would like instead of sketching. If you would like some more direction on sketching leaves or using pressed leaves in your nature journal, here is a YouTube video I made that will give you some ideas: Tips for Drawing Leaves.