Days of Spring
Creating a Record of Spring Leaf-Out in
One of the best sources for observing spring's entrance in your area is
found in your own schoolyard. Observing and recording a specific tree
as it proceeds through its growth leads to inquiry into environmental
changes. The resulting data is a visual picture of spring tree growth.
In this lesson, students will be:
and Collecting Leaves
a Time-Line Book
· Journey North field journal or notebook
· Trees (easily accessible)
· A simple plant
press (or a wooden
· Tree identification guides
· Art supplies: paper, glue, paint, ribbon, brushes or small sponges
(Part I): Observing and Collecting Leaves
this lesson before the deciduous trees in your area have begun to leaf
out. Take your class out and as part of your phenology studies; watch
for signs of swollen tree buds.
the buds are beginning to break you can start this leaf-out lesson.
1. Choose a tree or a branch for each student or group of students to observe
for the course of this lesson. These could be marked with yarn.
2. Every 2 days go out and observe the size of the emerging
3. In their Journey North field journals, have the students
sketch the leaves to scale, measure the leaves, and/or collect a representative
sample of leaves*. Record the day's high and low temperature, the weather
conditions and other sensory observations on the same journal page.
(The personal sensory observations make the journal more personal and
4. Do this until the trees are fully leafed out, or until
there is a substantial visual difference from start to finish. It should
take less than 3 weeks if you are experiencing a normal spring.
5. Using tree identification guides, have students identify
their trees and write some facts about the trees in their JN field journals.
* If there are enough leaves on the trees, have students collect the leaves
and press them to use in Part Two in an art lesson to create a separate
1. Do the leaves of all the trees selected for collecting emerge at the
same time and the same rate? What could have caused the differences? the
2. How does the weather- temperatures, daylength, and atmospheric conditions-
affect leaf emergence?
3. Were you able to identify trees easier after leaves began to emerge?
4. Did you notice any correlations between the leaf size and other things
that you recorded in your journals (i.e. insect activity, bird activity,
other plant or flower growth)?
5. How does the leaf-out in your area compare with other places in North
Activity (Part II) : Pressing