All About Leaves - Top 3 Ways to Use "The Tree" November 03 2009


My colleague, Carol Brooke, created the Family Tree template a couple of months ago to coincide with the beginning of the school year. This template and the leaves that accompany it fit in so well with the All About Leaves unit, I came up with my Top 3 Ways to use this tree during the next couple of weeks!

There are a couple of ways to use this tree in the following activities. The first is to make smaller copies for each student that will fit in their All About Leaves folders. Your students can cut out the smaller leaves and use them individually to complete the activities.

Another option is to make a larger tree to display in your classroom. Print out the template, make a transperancy, and use it to draw the tree on a large sheet of butcher paper. Print the leaves and enlarge on a copy machine, on white paper for kids to color or decorate or on colored paper. Either way, have your students cut them out and use them for the activities below.

Keeping in mind that there are three activities, but you might only want one tree. Consider using specific colors of leaves for each activity - for the math, use red leaves, for reading, use orange and for the poetry activity, use yellow leaves. This strategy would work for smaller, independent trees as well!

Reading Tree

An easy way to use this tree - independently or whole-group - is to reinforce letters, sounds or skills your class is already working on. Have students write their spelling or reading word sorts on the leaves and glue them to their trees. They can also use their trees for vocabulary or spelling lists and patterns as the unit progresses, and you can use a classroom tree for this purpose as well.

Use the tree to encourage your students to read independently. To begin, each student needs to make a reading goal; for example, number of pages read per day, or number of books read per week. Have the leaves available for students to fill out each time they've reached their goal. Your kids can write the goal that they met right on the leaf, then glue to their trees.

This idea would work for a larger classroom tree, but you might also want to make a whole-group goal. For example, your class can strive to read 1,000 pages total in two weeks, or a certain number of books. Each time a student reads a certain number of pages (determined by you), they can hang a leaf on the tree with his/her name and achievement. Then when the classroom goal has been reached, it's time to celebrate! 

Poetry Trees

Poetry in the All About Leaves unit moves away from songs and toward strong, visual imagery. As your students explore the poems about leaves, it would be fun to give them a place on the classroom tree to display their own works of poetry. Consider using some of the suggestions of types of poems from the Pumpkin Patrol - Poems and Songs post. An acrostic of L-E-A-V-E-S or shape poems to decorate the leaf templates would look really cool on a classroom tree. On independent trees, however, students may only have room to write a word or a phrase on each leaf, which when arranged on their trees would make a really neat visual effect (especially if the poems are about falling, swirling or dancing leaves).

Math Trees

Whether for each student or the whole classroom, the leaves on the trees would be really good flashcards. It doesn't matter if you are working on addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. Put the problem on one side and the answer on the other. Attach the leaves with a strip of clear tape along the top so the leaves can be flipped up and the answer revealed. Students could set up and practice their own "Math Facts Trees" during a center time, and they could also work in partners to quiz each other.

Another good use of the leaves are short problem solvers that students could work on. Enlarge the leaves and glue the problem on one side, leaving students the back of the leaf on which to solve the problem. When successfully solved, the leaf gets posted on the classroom tree!

There are many ways to use the Family Tree and Leaf template in your classroom. However you decide to use them, you will definitely have colorful trees at the end of your All About Leaves unit!