I just tried out this lesson with a class of 2nd and 3rd graders who come from very linguistically diverse backgrounds. It went really well! The students were really enthusiastic and they produced and shared a lot of great leaf vocabulary. You could do these activities with students who have hardly any English knowledge and use them to teach color and shape vocabulary. The activities also work with more advanced students, who can learn about the parts of leaves and use more complex shape vocabulary to describe the leaves.
I can’t take credit for the ideas in this lesson plan – I’ve seen the leaf man puppets pop up a few times on pinterest, most recently via Teach Preschool. The lesson was put together with teaching colleagues who gathered leaves and brought a variety of fiction and non-fiction books featuring leaves for children to browse through.
I was impressed with how many words the students we are able to add to the word tree! If I was doing this lesson with younger children, or those with less English knowledge, I would have the students brainstorm color and shape words, and help them write them onto notes for the tree. Some of the students enjoyed this part of the lesson so much that they chose to keep adding words instead of making a leaf puppet. Fine by me! Leaf Man has a great selection of pictures of leaves, and names all of the trees that the leaves are taken from.
We discovered that making a leaf rubbing is much harder than it looks. The students needed specific instructions: put the leaf under the page, choose a crayon with no paper around it, turn the crayon on its side, and rub systematically in each direction over the leaf. The students came up with some great adjectives to describe the leaf shapes though!