School Leaf Collection Projects

When did teachers stop requiring students to make leaf collections in science class?

I remember making one in junior high; so did my sister. But none of our kids did.

Could it be that today’s teachers think all kids have to do is Google stuff if they’re interested in leaves and trees?

When I was that age, we didn’t have Google, and teachers recognized the connection between physically doing something and learning.

So we had to scour the countryside for actual leaves and fruit; take detailed notes on the shape of the tree, the appearance of its bark, and its location; preserve the leaves between pieces of wax paper inserted into big thick books; and organize the whole thing into some sort of folder.

For a grade.

We quickly learned:

  • where in town the interesting trees could be found
  • to be careful with those leaves, gathering intact specimens rather than bug-bitten ones
  • and to work quickly, before frost fell

I can still hear my dad cautioning me, “Don’t wait ’til the last minute, Deb. Some trees lose their leaves in winter.”

A certain protocol came about with school leaf collection projects and for a shy kid like me, it was uncomfortable.

You had to find the tree, then knock on the owner’s door and ask if you could have a leaf for your collection.

Not borrow it — you weren’t bringing it back!

Most folks didn’t seem to mind. Some told me to help myself to the lot of ’em. They were going to fall off anyway, and this would mean one less for them to rake up and burn.

It was a happy day when no one answered the knock on the door. Only then could I grab the prize leaf and RUN!

Thanks to my forward-thinking, yet practical, teachers, I did learn about leaves and trees. To this day, I can identify many trees by their shape, bark, and leaves.

My Favorite Domer finds this fascinating though a bit odd. He never had to make a leaf collection so one tree looks pretty much like another to him.


So who else out there has memories of leaf collections in school?

10 thoughts on “School Leaf Collection Projects

  1. LOL..Well your favorite Domer has a point and I won’t say it was Cole’s favorite project but Waldorf kids don’t use computers during the grade school years so the class did the fall leaf project together…when they were little the fairies painted the leaves and the Gnomes cleaned the tree roots and as the went up through the grades more science was added. Just this week Cole pointed out a beautiful tree and said..”look mom the fairies did a great job on that tree.” I grew up in the desert so I learned more about rocks!
    Fun memories. Maybe a fall leaf garland is in your future!

    • I love how Cole’s school fostered the kids’ imaginations! Fairies and Gnomes — perfect for creative little minds! My dad was into rocks; I took Geology in college (hoping the knack was in my genes), but I’ve got to confess all those rocks looked the same to me!

      • My dad was a geologist.. 🙂 and like the man who told you how watches were made when you asked the time…asking what “kind of rock is this” could lead to a lengthy lecture… and they did all look the same to me! 🙂
        One of the reason we choose a Waldorf education for Cole is that it treats the imagination with the same level of reverence as it treats academics .

        • Omigosh, Daddy was a geologist, too! Wonder if my dad and yours ever met? Wouldn’t that just make my day?? Daddy loved rocks, but he loved insects, too, and he’d have made a great entomologist! Tell Cole he’s fortunate to be receiving a Waldorf education — it will stand him in good stead all his life!

    • The fear of having to interact with real people is probably what made me such a sorry door-to-door sales person of Band candy, Janna. Thank Heaven I’ve worked my way through that!

  2. Oh Deb, you take me back! I don’t remember having to knock on doors to ask permission but I do remember with both myself and my children collecting the best and brightest leaves from the yard and pressing them between two pieces of waxpaper. And to this day I feel a bond with trees and always feel a sadness when they become diseased or damaged by the weather (which has happened this year in our area-hurricanes, tornadoes)
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

    • Ah, a fellow tree-lover! Wonderful! I’m glad your kids benefited from this annual fall ritual; sadly, my son did not. To this day, he doesn’t know any difference between a maple and an oak. Trees offer us so much more than shade; they give us a reason to look up and they clothe our world with so much beauty. I’m sorry yours have been hard-hit by wicked weather, but you just watch — the strong ones will survive!

  3. Pingback: October 1: Vegetarian Day, Frugal Fun, Homemade Cookies

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