All About Leaves - Top 3 Ways to Use Technology November 05 2009
If you do an internet search for resources about leaves, there will be about three or four really good websites that pop up. I've put in some time, and I'm pretty proud of this collection of web resources to use with our All About Leaves study. These resources can be used in the computer lab on individual computers, or you can project the information from one computer for your whole class to see and enjoy. I've also included suggested activities to go along with these web resources as you and your students continue on our leaf study!
Viewing foliage around the United States is considered a recreational sport by some, and there are some amazing photos to prove it. The exposure (pun intended) of these Autumn scenes would provide your students with a variety of colors and subject matter to play with regarding appreciation through art mediums.
When viewing this scenes, have your students do some sketching and color matching with colored pencils or crayons. Later, they can recreate these Autumn scenes using oil pastels or tempera paint on heavy or colored construction paper as backgrounds. The colors are so vibrant, and will probably require mixing, tinting and shading. What a great excuse to play with color!
The University of Illinois Extension has The Miracle of Fall; it's a bit difficult to find specific webcams or photos from the list that are user-friendly, so I did some digging and found a collection of beautiful fall foliage. This site are pictures from New Hampshire, and I think they're the best in the collection. I encourage you to play around with it before directing your students to the list. The Weather Channel also has a Fall Foliage Slide Show (click the link and it will take you to the beginning. The next button is on the bottom right).
Information About Leaves
The state government of Maine has a site called MaineFoliage, and on that site is a short video that reviews how leaves turn from green to their fall colors. Whether whole-group or independently, this resource will reinforce the skill of picking out important information as well as main idea and details - for example, have your students concentrate on identifying the five most important facts from the video, or the five most important details for "How Leaves Change Color." A side note - if you want students to find specific information from the video, it would be helpful if your computers came with headphones.
Environmental Education for Kids (EEK!) has very helpful pages entitled A Tree's True Colors. If you would rather have this information in a hardcopy form, I created the packet A Tree's True Colors. Another option is to use this A Tree's True Colors Comprehension Page, either with the website or the hardcopy reading material.
Observation and Classification
One of the most fun and useful tools I've found is The Leaf Key. It was originally a 4-H project for identifying leaves of Virginia trees, but it will probably work for leaves your area. It would be ideal for your students to have a few leaves to use with this resource as they become familiar with it.
To start, press the link "I've Got My Leaf, Let's Get Started!" Then using the characteristics of the leaf you're trying to identify, the system breaks down what kind of leaf it could be. This tool will be very useful as your students get into observing and identifying leaves from their area, and you may want to return to it in the next few days.