Preschool Leaf Activities: How to Investigate Leaves

Are you looking for some fun preschool leaf activities?

In the fall, when the leaves are falling, it’s the perfect time to teach kids about leaves and trees. Of course, kids love leaves, but how can you use their interest to help them learn?

How Do You Teach Kids About Leaves?

Doing a leaf investigation is the perfect way to teach your kids all about leaves. So let me give you some fun ways that your little scientists can study leaves.

preschool leaf investigation

Finding Leaves

If you are going to do a leaf and tree study, then you need to find some leaves for your science activity. Your kids can help you with this task. If you have trees on your playground, they can gather some leaves there. Preschoolers LOVE getting homework, so they will be excited if you ask them to bring a leaf from their home or neighborhood.

If you live in the south, finding beautiful fall leaves can be a challenge. Here are a few ideas:

  • Ask a friend or relative from the north to ship you some leaves.
  • Buy silk leaves from the craft store.
  • Use what you can use what you have locally. It’s okay if all the leaves that you investigate are green.

A Leaf Investigation

Now that you have many leaves for your kids to study, it’s time to conduct a scientific investigation. Scientists learn about things in the world by studying and classifying them. So let’s look at ways that your kids can study leaves.

Examine the Appearance of Leaves

Color

What colors of the leaves that you see? If you are lucky, you can find many bright yellows, oranges, and deep reds. However, if you are from Texas, like me, you will likely have some green leaves and some brown leaves.

leaf investigation book - What color is the leaf?  Kids can color the leaf on this page.

Ask your kids to select one leaf to study. Then, they can draw a picture of their leaves or color a picture to show the color of their leaves.

Kids can draw the leaf

Texture

How does the leaf feel? Is it soft and bendable, or is the leaf dry and crumbly? What does it sound like when you touch it?

Picture of the leaf investigation book.  What is the texture of the leaf?  Is it soft or dry?

Identify the Parts of a Leaf

Use this leaf science activity as an opportunity to teach kids some new vocabulary. See if they can identify these parts of each leaf:

  1. midrib – the central vein that goes down the center of the leaf
  2. veins – get a magnifying glass to see all the veins branching out from the midrib
  3. apex – the tip or point on the end of the leaf
  4. leafstalk or petiole – the official name for the stem of a leaf
  5. base – the point where the petiole joins the leaf
Parts of a leaf poster or diagram so that kids can identify the parts on their leaves.

More Ways Kids Can Classify Leaves

In addition to identifying the color, texture, and parts of the leaves, kids can study their leaves in additional ways.

Simple Versus Compound Leaves

Kids can examine their leaf to determine if it is simple (a single leaf) or complex (made of multiple smaller leaves).

Leaf investigation book - on this page kids identify the leaf as simple or compound

Does it have a Petiole or Leafstalk?

Sometimes leaves lose their leafstalk when they fall to the ground. Does your leaf have a leafstalk?

Leaf activity - Kids identify if the leaf has a stem, petiole, or leafstalk

Leaf Edge

Ask your kids to study the edge of their leaves. What do you notice about the border? The edge could be smooth, or it could be toothed like a saw. Some leaves also have a lobed edge. Lobed leaves have areas that protrude and areas that are indented.

Kids identify the edge of the leaf on this page of the leaf investigation book.  Is the edge smooth, toothed, or lobed?

Measuring Leaves

Scientists measure things, so a leaf investigation should include measuring leaves. Kids can classify their leaves as small, medium, or large. They can also describe their leaf as wide, thin, long, short.

Kids can also measure the length of their leaves. Provide counting cubes or a measuring strip to use as a measuring tool.

You can also help kids cut a piece of yarn to be the same length as their leaf.

measuring a leaf with a piece of yarn

Encourage kids to compare the length of different leaves. Can they find the longest? Can they find the shortest?

Leaf Math Activities

You can also do many leaf-themed math activities as part of your leaf study.

Leaf Themed Counting Activities

Use plastic acorns, fall-themed mini-erasers, or small leaves as counters for number and counting activities.

leaf counting activity for preschoolers

Leaf Sorting Activities

You can use real leaves, silk leaves, or photos of leaves for sorting activities. Encourage kids to find different ways to sort the leaves. Here are some ideas:

  • by color
  • type of edge
  • sort by size
  • simple versus compound
sorting pictures of leaves on a sorting mat

You can also provide a tray with different tree-themed items for open-ended sorting. Here are some materials that you can use for the sorting activity.

  • twigs and sticks
  • leaves
  • wood disks
  • plastic acorns
  • mulch or pieces of bark

Leaf Graphing Activity

In addition to counting and sorting activities, another leaf math activity that you can do with your kids is graphing. You can attach leaves to the top of a large piece of chart paper and have kids add a sticker in the column under their favorite leaf.

When kids finish selecting their favorite, you can calculate and analyze the data with them.

Additional Preschool Leaf Activities

You can also do some other activities related to leaves. Here are a few ideas:

Leaf Rubbings

Place a piece of paper over a leaf and then use a crayon to apply color to the paper. The texture of the leaf and its veins will appear on the paper. Can your kids identify the different parts of the leaf?

a picture of a leaf rubbing

Bark Rubbings

Go outside and apply a piece of paper to a tree trunk. Color on the paper and the texture of the tree bark will appear on the paper. Next, make a bark rubbing on a different tree. Compare the two different rubbings. How are they different?

Sensory Bin

Use silk leaves to create a fun fall sensory table. Add sticks, plastic acorns, and small containers for sorting and measuring.

These preschool leaf activities are perfect for introducing kids to the world of science. In addition, they can help your preschoolers study leaves and develop skills in math, counting, sorting, graphing, and more. 

Purchase the Leaf Investigation Printables

Are you ready to investigate leaves in your science center? You can purchase the Leaf Investigation printables that are featured in this post in my store. Click on the image below to check them out.

Leaf Investigation Printables for Preschool and Pre-k

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