Crunchy leaf science and math in preschool

The trees in my back yard are all starting to change colors. I live in the middle of the woods so finding an ample supply of fall leaves is not a problem…

Fall leaves lend themselves to wonderful opportunities for scientific discovery. For every science activity, I like to start with a question…

How long does it take for the leaves to get crunchy?

Go outside and gather a bag full of leaves. Seal them in a baggy at first to keep them from drying out too quickly…

As young children observe the changes, you can help them build new vocabulary and record their observations.

These leaves have been off of the tree for 1 day. The leaves are soft and pliable.

These leaves have been off the tree for two days. They are starting to curl up around the edges.

These leaves have been off the tree for three days. They are starting to get dry and stiff.

These leaves have been off the tree for four days or more. They are starting to turn brown and crunchy.

Put all the fresh leaves on the first tray. As the leaves begin to change, have the children move them to another tray.

Integrate the study of leaves into other content areas….

  • Literacy: Let the children keep a Leaf Journal to record their observations. They can draw pictures of the changing leaves and mark the number of days it takes the leaves to get crunchy.
  • Creative Art: Set out some glue, crayons, paper, and leaves for the children to create their own leaf pictures.
  • Sensory: Place the extra leaves in a tub for further exploration!

  • Math: Invite the children to sort leaves by color or shape or size.

By |2010-10-18T06:00:26+00:00October 18th, 2010|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. izzy October 18, 2010 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    I like all the ideas!!! Especially the documenting idea! And the leaves are so pretty! (The reason why i love using nature for lessons so much too)


    • Deborah J. Stewart October 18, 2010 at 3:44 pm - Reply

      I just loved gathering up the leaves – they were so pretty and all the while I was thinking of all the ideas we could do in the classroom.

  2. Scott October 18, 2010 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    Great ideas, Deborah, as always.

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