Source:From Second Nature - Environmental Studies Pack (5-14), produced by SNH & RSPB, (available from the RSPB)- adapted from 'Tomorrow's Woods' - Greenlight Publications
- To use close observation to look for tiny differences in leaves
- To focus on the minute details of a leaf - veins, edges, cells, shape, colour differences, holes
You will need
- double-sided tape
Did you know?
There are tiny little pores called stomata on the underside of leaves, which open and close to allow carbon dioxide to come into the leaf and water vapour to leave.
Before the activity
Make the viewfinders by folding over a piece of card, (a piece of A4 card will make two) and cutting out a square window about 4cm by 4 cm. Place two small bits of double-sided tape either side of the window, leaving one side of the tape still covered.
Ask each member of the group to find an interesting leaf. Stress that they will only need one each. Gather everyone in an open area of the woodland where there is plenty of light. Hand a viewfinder to each person and get them to place their leaf inside and hold it up to the light, only stick it into place once they have decided on the best viewing position to see the colours, veins, little holes, crinkly edges etc. Stand in a circle and on an agreed signal everyone passes their viewfinder to the person on their right. Hold the new leaf up to the light and think about the differences between these first two leaves. Continue to pass-on and hold-up each viewfinder in turn, until the leaves have gone full circle. Talk to the group about shape, colour and function of leaves.
Suggested Follow up
- Each person draws their chosen leaf in a note book or nature journal (see the activity Young Nature Journalsin the People, Past and Present section)
- Do a web search for images of leaves under the microscope and/or use a binocular microscope for looking at leaves really close up (you can often borrow these from resource libraries or secondary schools).
- Try some of the activities from Leaf Games in this section
Colour drawing of a cross-section of a leaf
'Yuck! by Robert Sneddon, published by Harper Collins, has photographs of leaves taken under an electron microscope.
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