In the past few days, the students have taken an interest in the leaves that seem to be falling all around us. While this may have begun as a wondering about the beauty of fall, it has developed into a deeper investigation about how trees grow, get food and water, and why the leaves change color.
We started this unit of study by choosing to adopt two trees that currently grow near our playground. Each student was able to choose which tree they wanted to know more about. The students collected leaves specific to their tree, did bark rubbings, and drew pictures of their tree from a variety of angles. While both trees looked fairly similar from far away, the students learned that they were actually quite different when they moved closer. They realized that not only were the leaves different colors, but they were shaped differently as well. The students began to wonder what other kinds of leaf shapes were out there.
So the next day, we gave the students the opportunity to explore the shapes and details of a variety of leaves by viewing them on the light table. The light provided the students with the perfect opportunity to view all the shapes, lines, and veins that each leaf possessed. We discussed how the leaves were different and how some of them were the same. The students then traced the outline of their favorite leaves onto a piece of paper and then added any details they noticed.
Each of these activities may seem quite simplistic, when in fact the students are learning valuable skills during each task. They had to use their critical thinking skills when deciding what they wanted to know about trees and leaves. Each child had to use their observation and deduction skills when investigating the tree’s appearance, while also practicing self-control and focus when collecting only the leaves that belong to their tree. Lastly, the students practiced their fine motor control and artistic expression when drawing the tree from various perspectives and tracing/painting the details from the leaves they made at the light table.