Noticing and naming what the leaves of a plant are like helps scientists identify different plants. Today we’ll observe and describe the leaves all around us. Using simple supplies, we’ll get to “catch” leaf shadows. Making our shadow catcher lets us look at leaves up close and notice their unique features and details!
- Sunny place outdoors (you could also use a bright window, lamp or flashlight inside!)
- Chalk or pencil/ crayon
- Leaves or other natural objects! (you can collect them from the ground or try catching the leaf shadows directly from the plants)
Let’s get started catching leaf shadows
Hold a leaf over your paper with a source of light shining towards your leaf, making sure you can see the shadow on the paper.
Using your pencil, crayon, or chalk to trace the outline of the shadow on the paper.
Catch as many leaf shadows as you’d like! How many different kinds can you catch on your paper?
Now let’s use our observations to describe our leaves!
Words to describe leaves
Share and use these terms from the table below to describe the features of leaf shadows you’ve captured!
Questions and prompts to use along the way
- What shapes do you notice?
- Compare leaves from one plant to other leaves on the same plant. What do you observe?
- Are all the edges the same? Let’s find leaves with smooth, toothed/serrated, and lobed margins!
How are the leaves arranged on the branch? (simple – one undivided leaf attached to the leaf steam which is attached to the branch or trunk , compound – multiple leaflets making up the leaf are all attached to the leafstem which is attached to the branch or trunk)