Thursday, September 27, 2012

Explore Nature: Leaf Collections


Collections are fun, aren't they? My girls love to collect items from nature. We have rocks, pine cones, feathers, acorns, and many more nature treasures scattered throughout our house. We recently took a day to collect leaves and learned how to use a leaf to help identify a tree.

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I made simple books using several sheets of construction paper folded in half. I folded all the papers together, then used a stapler on the middle crease. While the girls were decorating their covers using fall-themed stickers, we talked about leaves. I showed them the difference between simple and compound leaves and we learned that this is an important thing to pay attention to when trying to identify trees.


Once our books were sufficiently pretty, we went in search of leaves. I took the girls to a nearby park that I knew had a variety of different trees. We ran around finding all sorts of different leaves. The girls started paying attention to the leaf shapes and would take off running anytime they spotted a tree different from one we had already seen. When we felt we had enough leaves, we came home to finish our books.


We used clear packing tape to attach our leaves to our books. We covered our leaves completely in the hopes that the tape would help preserve our leaves for awhile. Then it was time to try and identify our leaves. We looked at the shape and color. For instance, we noticed that the maple leaves in the picture below were green on the top and white on the bottom. This very important clue helped us identify it as a silver maple leaf. We put our observation skills to the test and were able to identify all of our trees. We used a field guide specific to Minnesota to help us identify our leaves. But, my favorite field guide to use with young children is the National Audubon Society First Field Guide Trees (National Audubon Society First Field Guides).



We had a great day collecting and in the process learned about observation, classification, and types of leaves. Not bad for a project that was a lot of fun!

What do your kids like to collect?

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