Outdoor exploration provides a real world context and offers meaningful learning opportunities for children!

We began today’s study of leaves by reading the wonderful book titled, “Leaves” by David Ezra Stien. “Leaves” is a book about a little bear experiencing his very first season of fall…

When the first leaf falls from the tree, little bear feels sad and tries to put the leaf and all the others back on the tree but it just isn’t the same. The book touches on all four seasons while little bear sleeps and wakes up to all the leaves once again back on the trees…

Expanding on a Story

After reading our story, my students went outdoors for a nature walk to collect our own set of leaves and then we brought them back inside and spread them out on our table to see what we could learning we could do with our leaves…

Sorting their Leaves

I had my table prepared ahead of time to invite the children to do some simple sorting of their leaves by making a chart on the table with tape. But first, we had to take a look at the leaves and then decide how we might sort them best. All the leaves were spread out on a second table so the children could select a few they liked best…

Then the children brought their selected leaves over to the chart table and began to sort them into different categories…

Sorting by Color

The natural tendency was for my students to sort the leaves by color but not every leaf fit nice and neatly into a specific color so my students had to think a bit about what other similarities they saw between the leaves…

Sorting by Size

One of my students noticed that many of the leaves were long and skinny, so the children now had a choice to either place a long and skinny leaf in the red pile or in the long and skinny pile…

Soon all the leaves were sorted by either color or shape or size but we had lots of leaves still left over to explore so what did we do with them?…

Building Fine Motor Skills

We added some scissors and made leaf confetti. The children could cut the leaves into tiny pieces or tear the leaves into tiny pieces. Most of the children preferred cutting the leaves…

The children cut the leaves up and soon we had lots of tiny pieces of leaves…

Those who wished to use the leaf confetti to make a paper tree were invited to do so. Some of the children gave it a try and others preferred just to continue cutting up the leaves…

Building Critical Thinking Skills

And  one last exploration was pulled out of all those leaves for the morning. One of my students noticed that if he cut a leaf in half, he could put it back together just like a puzzle. So while the children cut and glued confetti leaves, I prepared a few more leaf puzzles on our chart table…

And when the children saw them, they quickly put the leaves all back together again…

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