Posts Tagged ‘leaves’

So, last week we introduced you to Greta. This week, we’ve mentioned the amazing culture gardens and mural she worked on this spring and summer. Today, we want to share with you Greta’s latest science project.

Greta has her own blog, Brooklyn Greenhouse, that she uses to talk about what’s new in the greenhouse and garden as well as awesome things that kids say and do. Last week she wrote and fascinating entry about the red leaves of the Japanese Maple.

Greta is teaching the 2nd and 3rd graders all about plants throughout the seasons, and Greta did some research and discovered that… red leaves are an ongoing scientific mystery! There are many theories about why leaves turn red, so Greta and the students are doing an experiment to test one of the theories.

Want to find out more about leaves and this interesting red leaf theory? For more information about leaves, yellow and orange leaves, and the fascinating theory about red leaves, check out this entry on Greta’s blog!

And once you’ve learned all about the science of leaves, you can return to our fall favorite, The Little Yellow Leaf (with a guest appearance from a red leaf!).

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Thanks to a recommendation from the Early Childhood department here at Brooklyn Children’s Museum, here’s a lovely fall book for your youngest learners, to add to your fall unit.

Autumn Walk is the story of a puppy who goes on a seasonal stroll, through a world that smells like cinnamon and feels “corduroy cold.” The sentences are simple but very descriptive, a great chance to introduce fall words to your students. Autumn Walk‘s illustrations are full of red, yellow, and orange to match the season and, as you can see, this board book is shaped like a leaf. Read this book with your 2-4 year-olds and then take your own walk outside.

And there’s more! Autumn Walk has a seasonal companion Winter Walk, for use a little later this year.

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Did you enjoy the underwater hornwart experiment to show photosynthesis? Here are some ideas of experiments to do with a geranium, which you should be able to buy for about $3 at a local plant store. (Other plants will work, too; we picked geraniums because they are inexpensive and large enough for little eyes to see.)

Materials: potted plant, construction paper, small paint brushes

  1. Start by just observing the plant. What do you see? What parts does it have? What are those parts designed to do?
  2. Cover both sides of a leaf with construction paper to block the light for two weeks and watch how the leaf turns white as it can’t make food. The construction paper is preventing the chlorophyll in the leaves from absorbing the sun’s energy. This demonstration will help students understand that a plant does, in fact, need the sun.
  3. Feel the fuzzy leaves and hypothesize about why a plant would want fuzzy leaves (it helps keep water droplets off the pores of the leaf and allows it to “breathe” or transpire).
  4. During the spring, look for pollen in the flowers. Take a paint brush and use it to pick up the visible pollen on the stamen, or male reproductive organ of a plant. Then, dust the pollen from the paintbrush to the stigma, or female reproductive organ of the plant (see pictures below). Once the plant has been pollinated, seeds will form! Notice how the seeds curl out of the seed pods after the flowers have dropped off. Later, you can blow the seeds in the wind and notice how their long tails catch the breeze. Where are the seeds going?

What other experiments would you do with a plant to learn more about its parts?

The stamen is where pollen comes from. All of those small yellow dots are pollen.

The stigma receives pollen. Pollen causes pollination, when the egg of the plant develops into a seed.

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Does the word photosynthesis bring back painful memories of trying to memorize the Krebs cycle? It doesn’t have to! Even the youngest learner can see plants exhaling with this simple underwater experiment

Materials: A clear, glass bowl of water (or a small aquarium), a glass jar, an underwater water plant such as hornwort (purchase at your local pet store or anywhere fish supplies are sold)


  • Place the plant in a deep bowl of water. The water should cover the plant.
  • Place the glass jar over the plant, trapping it. The glass jar should be completely full of water. To do so, lower the glass jar on its side into the bowl, letting all the trapped air bubbles escape, and then tip it to cover the plant.
  • Leave the plant in a sunny place and watch what happens.
  • You will notice that bubbles will rise from the plant and eventually there will be a pocket of oxygen that gathers at the top of the jar where there used to be water.
  • Explain to students that, just like all trees and plants, the hornwort’s leaves takes the sun’s light and carbon dioxide and turns it into food for the plant. At the end of this process, the plant produces oxygen, which is what human beings breathe in. You cannot see the oxygen leaving all plants because oxygen just mixes into the air, but since this plant is underwater, you can see the process called photosynthesis at work!

The full concept of photosynthesis won’t be taught until high school, but even young learners can understand that plants breathe out oxygen with this great activity.

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