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For most of us, leaves make the tree. The green foliage dresses bare, brown branches and gives trees their life. Literally. Without leaves, trees couldn’t live.
Leaves not only give trees their beauty and their shape. Leaves are the power plant of the tree. This is where all the food for the plant is made. Leaves can take simple ingredients, sunlight, water, carbon dioxide, and create sugar, food for the plant. In this process, plants also make oxygen for us to breathe. How cool is that?!
From the time we first toddled around the backyard and picked up leaves that fell from the trees, leaves have intrigued us. We might collect them, press them, or draw them. We can, also, study leaves scientifically.
The tried and true leaf collection is the best way to get a true appreciation of the variety of trees in your area. Grab a tree guide and set out to find 20 different trees and collect their leaves. Of course, you can go bigger. Twenty is just a good start.
Leaf collections will also allow you to see the variation of leaves themselves. Some will be smooth, others rough. Some will be lobes, others elliptical. Download a leaf guide to get an idea of the variations you are looking for.
Use the Leaf Comparision Science Sheet (from Educating Laytons found in a post full of fun, fall worksheets) to compare your leaves in your collection.
You can use the tip in this Oak Tree Identification post to tell the difference between white and red oak trees.
Study Leaf Anatomy
All ages can study the anatomy of a leaf. For young learners, start with the shape of the leaf. They can trace them or try to draw them on their own. Point out the stem and the veins.
Leaf rubbings are great ways to point out the veins and the leaf texture.
Older students can do the same activities as the younger ones, but they can also get into a lot more detail. As they learn more about the function of the leaf, they can look at microstructures within the leaf that make it work.
As I mentioned before, leaves are the power plant of the tree or plant. Leaves use sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to create sugar that the plant uses for fuel. This process is called photosynthesis.
- Photosynthesis links – HeartOf Wisdom.com
- Photosynthesis lesson – TV411.org
- The Simple Story Of Photosynthesis And Food – TED-Ed
Performing experiments to learn more about leaves can be lots of fun. This leaf experiment from BuggyandBuddy.com explores how water travels through leaves. I wrote this fun leaf chromatography post for The Homeschool Village a couple years ago. It is still one of my favorite experiments. Seeing all the hidden pigments in the leaves is amazing! Here is an easy, hands-on way to study the water in tree leaves from Learn Play Imagine.
There are so many possibilities when it comes to art involving leaves! Here are a few fun ideas I’ve run across.
- Clay leaf imprints
- Beautiful leaf drawing and doodling
- Fall leaf watercolor resist
- Leaf collage
- Leaf lanterns
More Leaf Information
I’ve pinned lots of leaf unit study resources onto this board. Follow it and I’ll keep adding more!
Looking for some good leaf books, guides, and tools?
Free Trees Unit Study and Lapbook from Homeschool Share
Fall Leaves Unit Study – CurrClick.com