Keywords: Tree Identification, Leaf Terminology, bark, stem, leaf, crown, pine, oak, maple; Grade Level: 3rd grade; Total Time Required: 60 minutes; Setting: Classroom

Subject Covered: Science¬-Environment and Ecology

Topics Covered: Leaf/Tree Identification, Terminology

Goals for the lesson

* use tree terminology to describe trees and leaves
* use a key to identify trees

Materials Needed

* Leaf ID Worksheet 1
* tree cuttings from trees around the school
* computer to display pictures of leaves and PowerPoint slides
* Summer Key for Pennsylvania Trees (see Literature Cited)
* Ten Important Hardwoods (see Literature Cited)
* Interactive Bulletin board with terminology and pictures-use pictures from FRIT PowerPoint, Ten Important Hardwoods, or take pictures with your students
* Vocabulary cards with leaf and tree terminology
* paper and pencil

State Standards Addressed:
* Science and Technology

  • 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.C Know that some natural resources have limited life spans.

Teaching Model Used:
Direct Instruction, Hands-on, and Cooperative grouping


1. Review Part 1 lesson.
a. have students recall descriptions of trees
b. review KWL chart from part 1
c. ask students if they had trouble describing the leaves-why?
2. Tell students that we are going to learn the terminology that people use to describe leaves and identify trees.
3. Use computer to display slides 4-18 from FRIT PowerPoint.
a. Leaf Terminology: simple leaf, compound leaf
b. Leaf Types: broad and flat, needles, scale and awl-like
c. Leaf Arrangement: alternate, opposite, whorled
d. Leaf Structure: compound leaflet arrangements, palmately compound, even pinnate, odd pinnate, bipinnately compound
e. Leaf Margins: serrate, double serrate, dentate, lobed, entire
4. During the PowerPoint have examples of leaves and stems to show students.
5. Have students repeat each vocabulary word.
6. Divide the students into groups to practice identifying leafs and stems. Assign one student as the recorder.
a. each groups will have:
i. set of vocabulary cards
ii. cuttings of leaves and stems (at least one type of each)
iii. paper and pencil
b. students will use cards to determine type of leaf and stem
c. record types of leafs and stems
7. Have each group pick one type of leaf and stem and tell the class what type it is.
8. Introduce the Summer Key for Pennsylvania Trees. Use computer to display on the big screen.
9. Guide students on how to use it. Do some examples.
10. Pass out a copy to each student.
11. Give groups time to practice using it.
12. Introduce Interactive bulletin board.
a. demonstrate how to use it
b. discuss rules for using it
c. give students time to use it before next class


1. Assess students' ability to use terminology to describe leaves
2. Assess students' ability to use key to identify trees

Literature/Sources Cited

Summer Key for Pennsylvania Trees, Pennsylvania State University, College of Agricultural Sciences, Cooperative Extension

Ten Important Hardwoods, Pennsylvania State University, College of Agricultural Sciences, Cooperative Extension


Joe Caffrey, Oil City Area School District, Oakland Elementary