MnSTEP Teaching Activity Collection > MnSTEP Activities > Investigating Leaves: October Leaf Collection

Investigating Leaves: October Leaf Collection

Kathleen Fischer, Remer, MN Remer Elementary School
Author Profile


In this activity, students use observational skills to compare and discuss the changes in leaves from September to October. *Adaptations will also be described for special education students.

Learning Goals

This activity is designed for students to learn observation skills to compare and discuss objects. Students will also gain experience in teamwork, and oral presentation. Students will learn to use and become familiar with hand lenses.






Context for Use

Grade Level: K
Class Size: whole class instruction
School Forest-Field Exercise
Time: 30 minutes

Special Equipment:

-Adopted class tree

-Hand lenses,

-Laminated leaves

Students should already be familiar with rules and expectations of the school forest. They should also have knowledge and practice with proper leaf collection. This activity would follow lessons on tree parts and be part of a year long unit on trees. If the school forest is unavailable the lesson would be adapated by using a tree in the school yard.

Subject: Biology
Resource Type: Activities:Field Activity
Special Interest: Field-Based Teaching and Learning
Grade Level: Primary (K-2)
Theme: Teach the Earth:Enhancing your Teaching:Teaching in the Field

Description and Teaching Materials


-Observe, compare and describe September's and October's leaves.


-Hand lenses



-Nature journals


-Laminated samples of September's leaves

-Freshly collected October leaves

Intro:Clothespin Game
This is a silent game to help students develop observation skills. Students will form a circle, close eyes. One adult will clip a clothespin onto one selected child's clothing. Students will then open their eyes and mingle around in a predetermined area trying to locate the clothespin. When located, students move to a specified area. One or two rounds of this game could easily be played. Discussion of observation strategies will follow the game.

Focus: Students will walk to the classroom's adopted tree and form a circle around it. Using strategies discussed after the clothespin game students will silently observe the tree for one minute. Discussion of observations will follow. Students will then be directed to collect their monthly leaf sample from the classrooms tree. Following leaf collections, students will be separated into two small groups. Each small group will be led by an adult to use their hand lense to observe their new leaf. After adequate time the adult will then lead the students to compare the September leaf sample to the freshly collected October samples. Adult will list observations and choose volunteers to share findings with the other group. Students will again gather in a large group and share and discuss findings. Students bring their new sample to the classroom.

Conclusion: Upon return to the classroom students will tape collected leaves into nature journals.

*-Special education adaptations/modifications for physically/mentally impaired student: Special transportation to school forest will be provided (wagon), support staff will be available, any medical supplies needed will be carried by an adult in a backpack, picture communication system familiar to the student will be used for directions and communication exchange.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Be sure to visit your school forest prior to this activity to be aware of any safety issues such as poison ivy or downed trees. Teachers should also know their students and be aware of any allergies or medical issues. Students should be checked for proper clothing before going outside.

In the past I have used the school forest for general visits without a clear focus. This lesson has a specific learning objective.


Students will have nature journals that will be added to monthly and viewed monthly by staff.


N-12 Observation, N-13 working with team and sharing findings, N-12 using tools

References and Resources