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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Leaf Peeping

Lesson Description:
Students will put their observational skills to the test as they participate in the autumn activity of leaf peeping. Students will create detailed sketches of leaves.

Eco-fact: On average, children can identify up to 1,000 corporate logos, but fewer than 10 plants or animals in their own backyards.

  • Walk around your schoolyard with your class and find four or five different leaves. They can be green leaves or leaves that have changed color in autumn.
  • Have the class observe their collection and think about what the leaves have in common and what is different about them. Then they can turn the leaves over and study the pattern of the veins by tracing the pattern with their finger.
  • Ask students what they think the purpose is of the veins in the leaf. botanists, the scientists that study plants, say that the network of narrow tubes on the leaf, also known as venation, carry water and nutrients.
  • After the discussion, students can record their observations in their nature journals by writing down the color(s) of the leaf, its shape, length, width, texture and scent.they can also record where they found the leaf.
  • Explain that botanists use this information to identify plants. by writing down as much information as they can, botanists can tell an oak tree from a maple tree just by looking at the leaf.
  • Once the observations are complete, students can draw their leaf with a pencil. they can begin by drawing the contour of the leaf or outside edge. Remind them to draw lightly or whisper draw, so that it can be erased easily if they want to make changes. then, draw the inside of the leaf, including the venation, or pattern of veins.
  • After the pencil drawings are finished, have everyone notice which areas are lightest on your leaf, and which ones are the darkest. Then color in the areas that are the lightest by coloring lightly. Then try coloring harder on the areas that are darker on the leaf.

  • Try this activity in different seasons to also observe changes in leaf colors.
  • Use a hand lens or magnifying glass to better observe the venation, or pattern of veins.

Lesson Type:
  • Other

Sustainability Topic:
  • Gardening

GEF Program Category:
  • Green Thumb Challenge

Time Needed:
50 minutes
Materials Needed:
  • nature journal
  • pencil and eraser
  • colored pencils

School or Group:
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