We learned that leaves can help identify trees and plants.
Millie knew that leaves come in different sizes, but she never realized that they come in different shapes, as well. This week she learned that some are lobed, some are toothed, and some are smooth. We gathered a collection of leaves—various sizes and all three shapes—and used green paint to make leaf outlines so she could see their shapes more clearly.
We learned that leaves make food for the rest of the plant.
Leaves take air, water, and sunlight and change them into a special kind of sugar that feeds the rest of the plant. We talked about the way water from the ground travels up into the roots, then through the stems and branches, and finally into the leaves through a series of veins. We did leaf rubbings, which really made the veins stand out!
And I wasn't planning to incorporate this into our L-l Leaf unit, but one of the squash plants in our fall garden just started bearing fruit. We went out to check on it, and Millie was able to see that if the leaves weren't doing their job, the plant wouldn't have been able to stay alive, let alone grow new fruit!
We learned that some leaves change colors in the fall and fall off the trees during winter.
I found a book called Why Do Leaves Change Color? by Betty Maestro that was a great resource for this part of our study.
It helped us understand that chlorophyll gives leaves their green color during the spring and summer when the earth receives lots of sunlight; but when fall rolls around and there isn't as much sunlight and, therefore, not as much chlorophyll, a different chemical reaction inside the leaves causes them to display their beautiful autumn colors.
We also read Leaves! Leaves! Leaves! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, which helped us see what happens to leaves during each of the four seasons.
Millie learned that when leaves change colors, their job of making food for the tree is finished, and they will soon fall to the ground and die. She's my tender-hearted girl, so she was genuinely sad for the leaves when she heard this. :*( However, it did help her to understand her special words for the week:
I will live and grow in Jesus.
We talked about how a leaf can't live if it isn't attached to a plant because it can't get the water and nutrients it needs to sustain life. Millie chose one leaf from a plant to be our independent leaf. This leaf decided it didn't need the plant anymore and could do just fine on its own.
Millie checked on the independent leaf every day to see how it was holding up, but she soon noticed that it wasn't doing so well. First it got very soft and limp, then the edges began to curl under, and finally it began to feel dry. The leaves that stayed attached to the plant were doing just fine because they were getting what they needed, but it was obvious that the rebellious leaf was dying. Here it is after one week:
Then we discussed how we're very similar to the leaves because our spirit will dry up if we don't stay connected to Jesus. I know I say it all the time, but I absolutely love My Father's World. God has truly given Marie Hazell the perfect words to explain these deep truths to young children in such a gentle way.
Some of the fiction books we read during this week included Caps for Sale, A Tree Is Nice, and The Giving Tree.
Caps for Sale was hands-down Millie's favorite book two years ago. She used to act it out during her free time, and we must have read it every day for about 3 months. But would you believe she didn't remember it at all when we read it together during this unit?! She did still like it, though, so that was good. :)
And someone on Pinterest shared these super-cute leaf art ideas from Family Fun magazine ...
... and I thought Millie and I would try to see what we came up with, but we just flat ran out of time. :( I still want to do it one day, though, because it just looks like fun! :)
And I guess I'll leave you with that! ;P