There are so many different ways to help kids learn about leaves; however it always helps to collect some in order to do so. Leaf collecting is fun. It’s also a great way to teach kids about leaves. After all, they’re practically everywhere—on trees, shrubs, and flowers. Heck, sometimes they’re even on our plates—lettuce, spinach, and cabbage.
Although you can collect leaves any time of the year, autumn is usually the most preferable. Leaves are already falling from trees and such, making them easier to collect. Leaves are also more colourful in autumn, from green, yellow, and orange to red, purple, and brown. This makes a great topic for discussion too. For example, explain how leaves change throughout the year and why.
Take the kids outdoors for a nature walk. Have them collect a variety of leaves, placing them in a bag as they go. Encourage them to collect leaves of different sizes, shapes, and colours. Once they are finished, talk about the leaves they have collected. What trees did the leaves come from? Give them resource books (with pictures) to help them identify their leaves. Discuss the various places you can find leaves. What is their purpose?
Talk about leaves that are edible, like lettuce, and ask how many have eaten a salad, etc. Ask which leaf is their favourite and why. Talk about its colour and texture. Have the kids write about what their favourite leaf looks and feels like.
The kids might also enjoy making a print from their favourite leaf. Cover a table with newspaper and have the kids wear an apron. Provide some paint, small paint rollers, and paper. Let them dip the paint roller into the paint and roll it onto their leaf. Turn the leaf over and make impressions on the paper. Hang up and allow to dry.
Collecting Leaves for Math and ScienceLeaves are also an excellent learning tool for practicing basic maths skills and introducing kids to plant science. There are numerous activities the kids can do while learning about their leaves. For instance, help kids learn basic maths using the leaves they have collected by making a leaf graph or chart. Have the kids count the number of leaves in their collection and group them together with similar looking leaves. Help them research the trees from which their leaves came from and use the results to create a chart. Record the number of leaves collected from each type of tree.
Another good way to sharpen math skills is through sorting. Let the kids sort through their leaf collection, placing them in groups of similar shapes, colours, or types. Have them arrange their leaves in size from smallest to largest or vice versa.
Once sorted, the kids can use them to learn about plant science. For instance, they can place them under a sheet of paper and create leaf rubbings using crayons. Have the kids place a leaf or two beneath their paper and tell them to rub the paper with their crayons. Magically, the leaf (or leaves) appears.
Leaf rubbings can make it easier for kids to see all the features that various types of leaves have in common with one another.Encourage kids to look closely at their leaves. Point out the different leaf parts such as the veins, margins, and stem. This is also a good way for them to study the veins of leaves and how these are responsible for transporting water and food throughout the plant.
Other Leaf Collecting ActivitiesKids love to be creative. Have them create a leaf collage with their collection. Simply glue them to a large piece of paper and put them on display. Perhaps the kids would like to make a scrapbook. Have them sort their leaves into the same types, such as oak leaves in one pile, birch in another, and so forth. Give them as much paper as necessary to fill their scrapbook, and then let the kids glue their leaves on each page. Try to keep the same types together for easier identification as they will want to label each page.
Once finished, have them create a cover page that includes their name, date, and a title of their choosing. Put their scrapbooks under a heavy object, like a stack of books, and allow them to stay this way for a few weeks to ensure the leaves have adequately dried and remain flat.