Tree and Leaf Identification - Part 1

Keywords: Tree Identification, Leaf Terminology, crown, bark, stem, leaf; Grade Level: 3rd grade; Total Time Required: 60 minutes; Setting: Classroom and outside, Start in the classroom for a discussion about trees and their usefulness, Take class outside for observation and discovery, Finish the lesson in the classroom to discuss and share what they observed and discovered.

Subject Covered: Science¬–Environment and Ecology

Topics Covered: Leaf/Tree Identification, Terminology

Goals for the lesson

•    observe trees and their surroundings
•    describe trees and their parts
•    work effectively in groups

Note about this lesson: This lesson is an attempt to find out what the students already know and determine their ability to come up with words to effectively describe what they know. I want them to use their own words to describe trees and their parts. The following lessons will provide them with the terminology for describing trees.

Materials Needed

•    clipboard
•    paper
•    pencil
•    worksheet (Leaf ID WS 1)
•    area outside to observe and examine trees

State Standards Addressed:
•    Science and Technology

  • 3.2.4.B  Describe objects in the world using the five senses.
  • 3.2.4.C  Recognize and use the elements of scientific inquiry to solve problems. 
  • 3.3.4.B  Know that living things are made up of parts that have specific functions.

•    Environment & Ecology

  • 4.2.4.A  Identify needs of people.
  • 4.2.4.C  Know that some natural resources have limited life spans.

Teaching Model Used: Discovery, Hands-on, and Cooperative grouping


1.    Classroom (15 minutes)
a.    discuss trees and their impact on our lives
b.    students will say what they know about trees and what they would like to learn about trees
c.    write down what students know and want to learn - use a KWL if you like
d.    explain what is expected of students when they are outside
i.    select one type of tree
ii.    observe tree and leaf¬–discuss with partners
iii.    use senses touch, smell, and sight to examine leaf
iv.    write what kind of tree you selected and a description about it, students will use their own vocabulary to describe tree with the purpose being to find out what they already know
v.    draw the leaf you selected from the tree
vi.    put students in groups of 3–give each member of the group a clipboard, paper, and pencil
vii.    stay in groups, follow group rules
e.    pass out worksheets and clipboards

2.    Outside (25 minutes)
a.    guide groups to locations outside¬–have areas selected for easy access to trees and to save time
b.    demonstrate what is expected
c.    give students time to observe and discover
d.    go from group to group observing students and answering questions
e.    let students know how much time they have left

3.    Classroom (20 minutes)
a.    have each group share their description of one of the trees they selected, listen for the wording they use to describe the trees
b.    let other students ask questions
c.    pass around leaf drawings
d.    display leaf drawings in the classroom


1.    Assess students’ ability to work cooperatively in groups.
2.    Look for students’ ability to describe trees by the words they use and what they thought was worthy of describing. Also, look for what they did not describe. Find out why they wrote what they did.

Literature/Sources Cited



Joe Caffrey, Oil City Area School District, Oakland Elementary