Leaves: Nature’s Suncatchers – Activities

FOCUS: Leaves come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they are all designed to make food for the plant, using sunlight, water, air, and their green pigment, chlorophyll. With close observation, leaf features such as shape and venation can provide important clues to the identity of plants.

INTRODUCTION: LEAF GRAB BAG
Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about leaves.

WARNING: Before collecting leaves, be sure to check your school grounds for any poisonous plants, such as poison ivy,  wild parsnip, and chervil.

Have children work in small groups with a leader to look for different types of leaves. Provide paper lunch bags to collect samples. Ask them to collect leaves from different types of plants, such as grasses, weeds, trees, shrubs, even garden plants. Have each small group sort their leaves into two piles and see if the other groups can guess which feature was used to sort them.

Have the children save their leaves for future activities.

Materials: paper lunch bags, Fact Sheet on Poison Ivy, Wild Parsnip, and Chervil.

LEAF LOOK SORT AND FIND
Objective: To identify physical features of leaves and associated vocabulary.

Have each child choose a leaf from their Leaf Grab Bags (see Introduction above). Using the Leaf Anatomy and A Variety of Leaves diagrams, have them note the various features on their leaf. Explain that you will now be asking them to split into two groups based on one particular leaf feature. Continue reading Leaves: Nature’s Suncatchers – Activities

Leaves: Nature’s Suncatchers – Puppet Show

Leaf It to Leaves!

Characters: Woody Woodchuck, Freda Fern, Pine Needles, Gertie Grass, Chlorophyll, Maple Leaf

Props: carbon dioxide, water drop, sun, clover leaf, words to song.

Woody Woodchuck  (singing while holding clover) I’m looking over a four-leaf clover that I overlooked before. Mmm – I certainly do love leaves. They make such wonderful meals for a woodchuck. And they come in all shapes and sizes. (Freda Fern enters, clover exits) Why, hello there, Freda Fern. I was just thinking about you.

Freda Fern  You were? Why’s that? I’m all ears – well, actually I’m all leaves. Continue reading Leaves: Nature’s Suncatchers – Puppet Show

Leaves: Nature’s Suncatchers – Standards

LEAVES: NATURE’S SUNCATCHERS ALIGNMENT WITH
NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS

The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Leaves: Nature’s Suncatchers – Standards

Conifer Clues – Background

Follow a shaded trail through a northern forest on a warm summer’s day, and the warm rich scent of fragrant conifer needles fills the air. Though we tend to refer to all conifers as pine trees, a closer look reveals a wide variety of cone-bearing species in our woods. Plants are classified by how they grow and reproduce, the type of flower they make, how the seeds are formed, and the structure in which the seeds are contained. Conifer is the scientific term for trees with seeds in cones and, generally, needle-like leaves. Conifer trees are part of a larger group, called gymnosperms, which includes plants with seeds considered naked, not enclosed in a fruit. Continue reading Conifer Clues – Background

Conifer Clues – Activities

FOCUS: A closer look at the many variations in conifer cones and their leaves makes each species unique and recognizable and distinguishes the common evergreen trees in our neighborhoods and nearby woods.

INTRODUCTION
Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about conifers.

Give a variety of conifer boughs to small groups of children, and ask what similarities and differences they notice.

Materials: a variety of conifer boughs, magnifying lenses.

CONE HUNT AND SORT
Objective:  To sort and identify cones by their patterns of similarities and differences.

Ahead of time, collect a wide assortment of cones, being sure to have some cones that match any conifer trees growing on or around the school grounds, for a total of at least 100 cones. Try to collect five different kinds of conifer cones. Continue reading Conifer Clues – Activities

Conifer Clues – Puppet Show

A Very Pine Day

Characters: Reddy Red Squirrel, Hemlock Branch, Spruce Branch, Fir Branch, Pine Branch.

Reddy Red Squirrel  Oh boy, it’s time for lunch! I just have to find a kine pone so I can eat some seeds.

Hemlock  Don’t you mean find a pinecone?

Squirrel  Of course! Find a pinecone. That’s what I said…I think. Anyway, now I’ve found one, right here on your branch.

Hemlock  No, you haven’t. I’m not a pine, and this little cone isn’t a pinecone. Continue reading Conifer Clues – Puppet Show

Conifer Clues – Standards

CONIFER CLUES ALIGNMENT WITH
NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS

The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Conifer Clues – Standards

Snowflakes – Background

When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind.” W.A. Bentley, 1925

Snow is magical, renewing our sense of wonder, transforming a barren landscape into a winter wonderland, and drawing us outdoors. When we look closely at falling snow, we marvel at the beauty of snowflakes. Each snow crystal is a unique, ephemeral work of art – yet its symmetrical, harmoniously balanced design is not random but created through a combination of physics, math, and chemistry. Continue reading Snowflakes – Background