Leaves are one of the most important parts of a plant. They are like a tree’s “food production factory”, producing food for the tree through a process called photosynthesis. The leaves of different plants vary widely in size, shape, and colour and provide a wonderful platform for exploration.
Find out more about leaves and their functions In this short video by Wildsight educator Janelle Park. After watching the video, head outside on a leaf discovery walk using the “Look at those Leaves!” activity below.
Go on a neighbourhood walk or a backyard exploration and collect a leaf from 5-10 different trees, shrubs or plants. Remember to collect only one leaf and only from a plant that has enough leaves where taking one won’t hurt it. You can take fallen leaves that haven’t decayed, or take photos of leaves.
Inspect the leaves:
1. Draw a picture of each leaf and describe it. Describe its texture, colour, shape, size, vein pattern and anything else you notice about the leaf. You can use the following questions as prompts:
• Does it have teeth?
• Does it have a smooth or rough edge?
• Does it have fine hair?
• Is it broad or narrow?
• How does it attach to the tree?
• Does it grow singlularly or in a bundle?
• If they grow in a bundle, how many are in the bundle?
• Why might this leaf be this shape?
2. Compare and contrast your leaves. Answer the following questions about your group of leaves:
• What similarities do your leaves have?
• What differences do your leaves have?
• Can you sort the leaves (by size, or shape, or colour… or another way)?
3. Write a sentence at the end of your leaf comparison outlining the main reason for leaves. Although all leaves are different and have adapted to different locations, they all share the same job. What is the reason for leaves?