Thursday, October 4, 2012

Leaf Investigation

In my estimation, millions of school children around the United States have, are, or will be collecting a sack of leaves to take back to school and use in some "craftivity" or investigation.  In Wakefield, Nebraska, we are no different!  I’m surprised there are any leaves at all left on the ground!  My first graders collected SCADS of leaves this week to bring back to the classroom and touch, smell, crinkle, observe, crunch, investigate, and absent-mindedly pulverize into my classroom carpet (Sorry, Josie!)

In an attempt to make our curriculum more standard-based and rigorous, my teaching partner and I have “stepped it up” in the area of Science and I’m proud of the work we are doing.  The students are learning valuable vocabulary as well as investigation skills that will serve them well in the upper grades and beyond.  Our “little scientists” are all about exploring, asking questions, observing, and investigating all things living and non-living (which pretty much covers everything!) This vocabulary development is important for all students, but our ESL population REALLY benefits from our intentional effort to use “science words” whenever we can!
With that in mind, my firsties did a bit of “Leafy Investigating” this week with the SCADS of leaves that we managed to haul back to the classroom.  We first brainstormed lists of describing words with the help of a fabulous book that’s been part of my repertoire for many years, Autumn Leaves, by Ken Robbins.  

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This book has GREAT pictures and even better vocabulary the kids eat it up!  Once we had some words to use, students were put in groups and asked to group their leaves by their own, student-defined attributes and name said groups.  It was fascinating to watch the students interact and use the vocabulary that we had just introduced and discussed.  Here are some pictures of my little scientists in action (they didn’t even notice that I was taking pictures . . . now that’s engagement!)

The "green group" was the only group to use colors as their main attribute for sorting their leaf collection.

The "purple group" had some great terminology - "curvy and pretty" to mention a couple.

The "orange group" labeled one of their groups, "broken."

The "red group" was very intentional in their sorting and came up with the lone "spotted" group.

All in all, this was a great experience and, in our discussion today, the students recorded their groupings in their Observation Journal (thanks, “Sid the Science Kid”!)  As a header to their journal entry, the students were asked to formulate a question, like a scientist would, that we could have asked (but didn’t, directly) in our investigation before we started.  After a few interesting tries, they came up with, “How can we sort our leaves and name the groups?”  (I love how they put everything in their own words using words they are sure to know!) Such great scientists, huh?


  1. Hello! I LOVE your classroom pictures! I am a newbie to blogging, too! I am nominating you for the Liebster Award! Please come over to my blog and check out the requirements! Congrats! Welcome!

  2. Thank you so much, Wendy! I'm honored! I will get right on the "requirements" after I enjoy the last few hours of this Thanksgiving break! Hope you had a wonderful break, too, and enjoy the coming holiday! Again, thank you!