Students will observe signs of autumn and gather data about trees on or near the school site as fall approaches.
- Copies of the Signs of Fall student page
autumn, conifer, deciduous, fall, season
- Make copies of the Signs of Fall student page.
- Plan to visit an area of the school yard, local park or garden, or neighborhood streets with both deciduous and evergreen trees (possibly including your adopted tree). If that is not possible, plan to explore neighborhood sidewalks for signs of fall. SAFETY: Check the site for any hazards such as deep holes, sharp objects, or poisonous or irritating plants.
Doing the Activity
- In the fall, take your students on a walk through a wooded area with both deciduous and evergreen trees.
- Ask them to find as many signs as possible that indicate winter is approaching and to describe their observations. Colorful falling leaves are easy to see, but encourage students to look for animal signs as well (birds migrating, squirrels storing nuts). Puddles, ice, frost, and mud are also indicators of the cooler or wetter fall weather.
- Pass out copies of the student page and crayons. Review the questions on the student page. Give students time to write answers to the questions in complete sentences and to make the leaf rubbings.
- When you return back indoors, lead a discussion on what students observed about fall, asking questions such as the ones that follow. (Consider using collaborative discussion strategies to lead the discussion.)
- What signs of fall did you observe?
- What changes did you notice?
- What time of year do these changes take place?
- What do you think might trigger changing leaf colors in the fall?
- What is happening to the length of the days in the fall? (If students don’t say that the days are getting shorter, then lead them to that observation, revisiting the Essential Questions for this level.)
- What else is changing at this time of year?
- What do other living things (including humans) do differently in the fall?
- What kind of evidence could we use to support our ideas?
- What questions do you have about the changes of fall that we could explore?
Remember to visit the Enrich tab for recommended children’s books that support the science concepts covered in this activity.