Leaves come in all different shapes and sizes and the trees, shrubs and other plants that they grow on do too.
What do we mean by shapes? There are circles and squares and, my favorite, heart shapes!
Then there are triangles (3-sided), rectangles (4), pentagons (5), hexagon (6), heptagon (7), octagon (8), nonagon (9) and decagon (10). The list goes on, but I think that is good enough for now.
What about sizes? How can you measure things? One way is by using different body parts. Something could be so many “hands wide” or “fingers long” or “feet apart”. I spread my fingers out and measured the distance between my thumb and my pinky and found the distance is 8 inches. My pointer finger is about 3 inches long and each “digit” is about 1″ long. Before you go outside maybe you want to measure some things around the house and see how many hands wide and fingers long they are. Then when you are outside you can see how many fingers wide or digits wide the leaves are or how many hands around (“circumference”) is your adopted tree.
Create your own shape necklace or bracelet by cutting out circles, triangles, squares, rectangles, hearts, etc. (See the PLT activity: The Shape of Things). Play “I Spy”. Hold up one of your shapes and say “I spy something shaped like __________”. Can you find it?
In your yard (if you haven’t raked up all your leaves from last year) or in a forested area collect leaves of different shapes, sizes and colors. (Make sure you know what poison ivy looks like. Leaves of three, let it be…is good to remember, but also know that poison ivy grows as a hairy vine on trees and you might not see the leaves or some grows as a shrub.) Look really closely at one leaf and make observations – describe what you see, feel, smell and hear (observation sheet attached). Look at the leaf edge (margin). Is it smooth? Is it wavy or lobed? Does it have “teeth” and are they big or small? Has an insect chewed on the leaf? In your pile, are some leaves big and others small, but besides that do they look basically the same?
Now put your leaf back in the pile and have someone mix up the pile. See if you can find your leaf again. Look through the pile and separate the leaves that look the most similar. How many different kinds of leaves do you have? Do you know what tree they came from?
To add to your tree journal make leaf rubbings of the different leaves. Don’t forget to place the leaf with the vein side up so you can see a clear pattern of the leaf. You could even make a collage of all your leaves in a rainbow of colors…I would love to see the results!
Activities from Project Learning Tree
- Observation sheet from Growing Up WILDhttps://www.fishwildlife.org/application/files/6415/3478/4658/Looking_at_Leaves.pdf