One of the perks of fall is the gorgeous weather and a leaf investigation is a great excuse to go outside which makes it a wonderful addition to your fall activities!
To begin our leaf investigation we read the book, Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. This book displays creations that have been made with nature items that can be found during fall so it is a perfect set up to a nature walk.
For this leaf investigation, you will need:
- Bags (to collect nature items)
- Magnifying glasses
- Sharpies (optional)
- Liquid Glue
- Leaf Investigation sheets (*Optional) You can download yours here.
After we have read the book, I give each child a large brown bag to collect their nature items in. We take about 5 minutes to decorate the bags while I am handing out magnifying glasses and allowing kids to take turns getting jackets on.
The children use their magnifying glasses to look at nature items and use their bags to collect the items they find most interesting. I also remind them that they will need enough items to create their Leaf Man creation. This helps keep them focused, especially the ones who have a hard time choosing.
The kids will be so excited to show you what they found. It is important to honor their finds and take the time to discuss the changing colors in the leaves they find or the amazing uniqueness of their acorn hat find.
Sorting and Graphing our Nature Items
Upon returning to the classroom, I have the students sort their nature finds. Some choose to sort their leaves by color or kind. Some choose to throw all of their leaves in a pile and sort the rest into sticks, acorn hats, rocks, etc…I allow them to choose their sorting method as it makes sense to them. We then complete the Nature Graph.
After graphing, I encourage the students to find the most interesting leaves they can find in their collection. We then use foil and our Leaf Rubbings sheets to make leaf rubbings.
For the Leaf Rubbings sheet, simply have the students place their most interesting leaves face down on their table or desk. Have them place their rubbings sheet on top of the leaf. Then show them how to use a crayon to gently rub over the leaf revealing the leaf pattern.
For the foil rubbings, simply give the students a piece of foil. Tell them to place their leaf face down so the veins are showing. Then have them place the foil on top of the leaf and press their finger down over the foil. Have them press out the whole leaf.
I find this activity really lets them feel the veins of the leaf and is a great sensory experience.
I gave the students Sharpies after the rubbings if they wanted to outline the veins so they showed up better on display.
Honestly, I think it would have been better to leave that part out because the pressing of their little arms on the foil while trying to trace the veins ended up smoothing out the veins and making them harder to see.
We had just learned about shape poems so this child wrote a shape poem about her leaf.
The final step of investigating our leaves was to use them to make nature creations just like in Leaf Man! I gave the students glue and the Nature Creations sheet. They used their nature finds to create whatever they wished to create. They were then asked to describe what they made and/or write a story about their creation.
After completing our Nature Creations, we gather at the carpet to discuss all of the fall nature items we found and how the leaves are changing colors and falling from the trees. I challenge them to go on a nature walk with their families and see what evidence of fall they can find in their neighborhoods.
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