Leaf Unit



Tree Identification
Comparing our leaf to leaf from the Leafsnap app
My husband found an incredible *free* app called Leafsnap.  It allows you to identify a particular tree species from a picture of a leaf.  All you do is take a pic of your leaf with an iPad ...or other mobile Apple device with camera feature... and match your leaf to a selection of leaf pictures displayed on the app.  Once you choose a leaf that matches yours, you can see pictures of its flower, fruit and seed and  in which states that particular tree grows.  It really is an awesome app, and we put it to good use for our leaves and trees science lesson!

Sam comparing our seed to seed pic from Leafsnap
In many cases, we weren't sure exactly which leaf on the iPad was the correct match to our particular  leaf- they can look similar.  So we used the fruit and seed portion of the app to find out what type of tree our leaves came from.  We compared our fruit (or seed we removed from the fruit) with the pictures on the iPad.  If leaf, fruit, and seed all seemed to match what we collected, we then checked to see if the tree grew in our state.  If it did, we then decided that we had successfully identified the tree that our leaf came from!

Leaf and acorn from a Scarlet Oak 
Once we identified the tree, Sam taped each leaf, fruit and (in some cases) seed to a piece of paper and labeled the tree type.  After we finished, I bound all the pages together into a little book using a report cover.

Leaf Experiment

We learned that leaves have a waxy coating that prevents them from soaking up water.  Water rolls off the leaves, onto the ground where it can be absorbed by the soil and eventually taken in through the tree's roots. We used a baby nasal aspirator to drop water onto the leaf to see if it would "soak through" or puddle.  Sure enough, it puddled!  We talked about how the water travels through the tree and into the leaf's veins... then the leaf uses that water combined with air and sunlight to make food for the tree.

We made leaf rubbings to really see all the veins in a leaf.

Parts of a Leaf
After learning about the leaf's veins,  Sam learned the other parts of a leaf from this cut and paste activity from 2 Teaching Mommies.

Tree facts

Sam discovered that if you fold a piece of paper in half and cut out a teardrop shape with a little stem on the end, it will look like a leaf.  Just like making hearts for Valentines day, we made leaves for fall.  We used our leaves to record the things we learned about leaves and trees.  I cut a piece of Kraft paper into the shape of a tree and let the kids dip pieces of brown yarn in glue to make a mess of roots under it.  When we reviewed, I pointed to the "roots" and asked Max which part of the tree it was and he said "the yarn." :)

Tree facts reviewed:
  • The roots take in water for the tree
  • A leaf's job is to make food for the tree
  • The leaves use water (from their veins), air and sun to make the food for the tree
  • The tree rests in the winter and doesn't need leaves to make food for it until spring
  • Different trees have different leaves
  • Trees produce fruit with seeds inside.  The seeds can grow new trees.
  • Squirrels like to eat the different fruit and seeds that trees produce.
(Hint:  If you do this, be sure to pre-measure your background and cut the tree accordingly.  I didn't, and ended up using a trifold board turned around so everything would fit).


Leaf Skip Counting by 2's

I found this activity at A to Z Teacher Stuff.  I intended to have Sam do this over the course of four days, but we never got past day one.  It was just one of those weeks where I felt lucky to get our core reading and math in each day-- extra activities just didn't make the cut.


Leafy Letter L

After some of the leaves from our nature walk got all dry and crunchy,  we crushed them into "leaf  confetti" and Max glued them onto an L is for leaf page.

L is for...

Max also glued some pictures of words that begin with L onto a letter Ll.

Fun Food

Fall Fruit Tree

The boys made their own pretzel and mixed fruit trees for a snack one day.

Just for Fun

Raking Leaves

One late afternoon, Corinne was napping and Max had also fallen asleep on the couch, so Sam and I headed outside.  He raked up a big pile of leaves but didn't jump in them- he wanted to wait for his brother and sister to join him.  Isn't he the sweetest little guy? :)

Well, that about sums up our leaf week.  Can't wait to see what others have been up to!


  1. Great hands-on activities for a leaf unit! I pinned your post to my Autumn Leaf Pinterest Board at http://pinterest.com/debchitwood/autumn-leaf-unit-study/ Happily visiting from Preschool Corner!

  2. great lesson Feel free to share it at Learn and Link http://mamato3blessings.blogspot.com/2012/10/learn-link-easy-bird-craft.html

  3. Um, I think I love *everything* about your week! The yarn tree roots and the fruit snack tree are both amazing ideas. GREAT week!

  4. What an amazing unit! I tried to decide what was my favorite aspect of it and can't. The snack, the app, the craft you did, and well everything is awesome.

    Thank you for linking to Read.Explore.Learn. I am going to be featuring this post on the Read.Explore.Learn. Facebook pages today.

  5. Fantastic leaf unit! Great to know about that app. Too cool!

  6. I am so checking out that app, because I never know what the tree is when my kids ask me.

    Thanks for linking to Science Sunday!

    1. I'm with ya. I love this app, my husband and I learned so much from this project. I think we enjoyed it far more than the kids did!

  7. Really love the fall fruit tree. This is great! I would love for you to add this to my Mom's Library Link-up!

    Thanks and Be Blessed,



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