I want my children to grow up like my father brilliant at identifying trees. And no better time for them to start learning than when the leaves change colour and fall throughout Autumn.
Whether walking in a park or deep in the woods, my aim is for them to see the difference between an English oak, beech, hazel, chestnut, elm, sycamore, maple and more.
So we’ve begun young naturalist expeditions to name trees by spotting their Autumn leaves. A walk near or in woods becomes an adventure when they have to seek and name different leaves whether on the ground or on low lying branches.
BBC Wildlife Magazine had an Autumn leaves guide this month which I cut out and copied for my twins to take with them on their leaf spotting walk.
We also learnt in a previous walk as nature detectives that a great way to learn both the names and differences between shapes is by bringing along paper and crayons to make leaf rubbings.
But it wasn’t just shapes they were seeking. They also began recognizing Autumn leaves by their colours. Depending on the tree some leaves turn yellow or orange or brown while others turn red. During Autumn when there is less light due to shorter days, the green chlorophyll in leaves begins to disappear. As this green ‘cloak’ fades away, we start seeing the underlying yellow and orange colours or new shades of red and purple forming.
So a leaf from an English Oak will turn yellow-brown while Beech’s oval leaves will turn reddish.
And, as we searched for a variety of leaves, I noticed my children were not just staring at the ground but were also looking up at the branches of trees. They wanted to double check and match the leaves on the ground with each tree.
After our recent mushroom hunt, they also kept stopping to point out different fungi on the ground. And insisted I take some photos of their discoveries. They really are becoming young naturalists!
A downpour ended this particular leaf hunt – although, of course, my kids were looking out for puddles filled with leaves to splash in on our way back – but we’ll go on many more. I don’t expect them to identify Autumn leaves and trees from just one walk!
Sarah MumofThree World says
What a brilliant thing to do!
My husband just knows ‘tree’ and ‘bird’, but my dad brought me up to recognise a fair few different types. I don’t think I’ve done enough to pass this knowledge onto my kids though, so I shall check out the BBC Wildlife magazine.
I definitely need help now with other sources such as this cut out or one of my nature books!
Well, you had me with trees right from the start. But you’ve reminded me that I’m ashamed to say I’ve not done this activity properly with my two yet, terrible! Must sort that out. Lovely photo’s.
I find that autumn is one of the best times for this
Coombe Mill says
What a great idea, getting out and teaching them all the different types of leaves, this might be one that we do for an activity hour here! It’s great that they’re identifying things by themselves and telling you about them. Thanks for linking up with Country Kids.
I found my kids love it when they have a ‘chart’ to tick off as they discover each one – makes learning a game. I enjoyed it too! So pleased you like this idea as a possible activity for all your guests!
76 sunflowers says
Indeed that guide for myself! I used to know almost every tree and leaf as a child but have forgotten most of them now! I love the top photo with the sun glistening through the trees!
Kate, Baby Routes says
Such a great activity and so educational too. Sorry I missed that BBC mag feature – looks like it was pretty handy! It’s always great to see children so engaged in nature.
What gorgeous photos and such a great activity to do. I’m not very good at identifying the different leaves but would love to do this at some point when my little ones are a bit older, sounds like a lot of fun.