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?