Autumn 2010 OHC #5 Seasonal Tree Observations

Autumn Tree Observations Leaves @handbookofnaturestudy

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.

Follow-Up Activity:
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.
Note: This nature study challenge can be found in the Autumn 2010 ebook.

If you would like to own this ebook, it is part of the Ultimate Naturalist Library for members. You can find more details on how to get your own membership here: Join Us!

Autumn 2010 Cover ImageUltimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy


  1. i love your theme. thank you for sharing so much information here. i hope to participate soon…we spend a lot of time outside but don’t do many projects. seriously, looking at your blog is inspiring me to pull out my black nature study book and give the kids some pencils. :)

  2. We did #7 this week. We just don’t seem to be getting them in order. It’s a good thing I bought the e-book so I know what to look for when we go on fieldtrips!

  3. Great challenge! I just noticed that I’m supposed to leave a comment when I link. oops!

    LOVED the video…we watched it several times.


  4. Hi Barb! We are new! We did Lesson 1 last week and will move on to Lesson 2 this week. Can’t wait to catch up with you ladies in week 6! Thanks for doing this!

  5. Hi Barb-

    We are really enjoying these challenges. I cannot thank you enough. I loved your post… I have never seen an aspen tree. Some day I hope I will.

  6. This study could go on and on and on. So much to learn! I forgot to mention in my post that we enjoyed the leaf printable link you included. You offer us all such wonderful resources. Thank you. Fall leaves are my absolute favorite! ~ Tricia

  7. This leaf study really opened our eyes to see what we don’t see. Does that make sense? My little botanists are happy curious explorers. :)

  8. We enjoyed learning new things about the leaves changing color and shapes. Thanks!

  9. We loved this study, and plan to continue it until the leaves are gone :) Thank you for the great resources! We especially liked the video and the notebooking page.

  10. This is fantastic! Our leaves are starting to turn here so I’m hoping to get out for a study in the next few days. Also want to say a big THANK YOU too for the video link, what an amaazing site. We have not come across that one before, and I know we’ll be using it often.

  11. Hi Barb – I finally posted what we did a few weeks ago. Thanks for hosting. I love to looks at your photos!

  12. I’m behind on my blogging. I just blogged Part 2 of our chickadee study, where we used the Pastel Tutorial to finish sketches for our nature journals.

  13. I just clicked on the video link and it took me to a How It Works video on Satanism. You may want to delete that link.

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