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Leaves Lesson Plan

Lesson plan for virtual field trip lesson about leaves from mountain trees and other producers (plants).

Leaf Adaptations & Characteristics

Lesson Plan

Leaf Lesson Plan (PDF)


  • Submitted by: Vince Case & Steven Henley
  • Content Area: Science, grades 4-5
  • Materials Needed: paper and pencil; crayons, colored pencils, book, something heavy
  • Handouts Attached: None
  • Standard Addressed: NGSS 5-LS2 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy & Dynamics (see attached NGSS standards sheet for full information)
  • Skill to be Maintained: Understanding the adaptations of plants, especially leaves. Leaf collection activity, leaf rubbings, leaf characteristics identification.
  • Essential Question: How do plants adapt to an ecosystem in order to survive?
  • Academic Vocabulary/Word Wall words: photosynthesis, deciduous, coniferous, adaptation, characteristics, traits

Basic Lesson Description and Procedure:

  1. Students watch the video at the SMNHC.
  2. Students review producers (plants) and consumers (animals).
  3. Students think about what producers provide to the rest of the ecosystem.
  4. Students observe different kinds of producers in the Sandia Mountains.
  5. Students learn about trees at the SMNHC and their leaf-like characteristics (leaves, needles, or scales).
  6. Students learn about the functions of leaves – as the place where photosynthesis occurs – absorbing the sun’s energy and converting it into glucose so the plants can grow.
  7. Students learn about coniferous and deciduous trees and their specific characteristics as adaptations to an ecosystem’s habitat and climate.
  8. Students make observations of different deciduous leaves – focusing on their parts (leaf blade, petiole, leaf node, vein); arrangement (simple or complex); edge formation (smooth, wavy, lobes, jagged); shape (circular, triangular, heart-shaped, lance-like); color; and texture.
  9. Students learn how to preserve the leaves they’ve collected
  10. Students learn how to make leaf rubbings.
  11. Students collect a variety of leaves, preserve them, and make leaf rubbings of them using crayons, colored pencils, or a regular pencil with an adult’s permission.
  12. Students identify different parts, characteristics, and traits of the leaves (leaf type, leaf parts, leaf edge, leaf shape, color, texture, etc.).
  13. Students create a leaf booklet of their leaves with leaf rubbings or drawings, leaves collected, and identification of leaf parts and characteristics. They can be as creative as they would like to be.

Observation activity

With permission of a grown-up, go outside, collect as many leaves as possible from trees, the ground, indoor plants, etc.

Lesson Conclusion/Potential Practice at Home

Students share their leaf booklets and discoveries with family and others they live with.


Just about any grade level can do this lesson and activity

Plant adaptations Outdoor-Follow-up Activity


  1. With permission of a grown-up, go outside, collect as many leaves as possible from trees, the ground, indoor plants, etc.
  2. Preserve the leaves you collect using folded sheets of paper, a notebook, or some other book, and something heavy like a rock or can of food.
  3. Make a leaf rubbing of each leaf collected using crayons, colored pencils, or pencils on paper. Or students can draw each leaf they have collected if a leaf rubbing doesn’t work.
  4. Tape or glue the leaf on the back of the leaf rubbing or drawing.
  5. Identify whether the leaf is deciduous or from a coniferous tree/plant (most will be deciduous).
  6. Identify and label the major leaf parts – leaf blade, petiole, node, veins.
  7. Identify the leaf edge type, the leaf shape, whether it is simple or compound, color, texture, etc.