Leaf Logic

8 October 2010 · 12 comments

in Maths Outdoors

With autumn here, now is the time to capitalise on the beauty and variety of leaves falling from the trees. Here is an activity that requires a bit of logical thinking and strategy.

First all of ask each child to gather a few leaves from under a tree. It works best if the leaves have several different colours. Maple trees are especially good for this.

Everyone needs to be sitting in a circle around a large sheet. The challenge of the group is to see if everyone can contribute a leaf to the logic line. This is how it works:

The first person puts a leaf down in the middle of the sheet.

The next person puts a leaf beside it. One attribute is changed. The leaf is still a big, maple leaf only this time the colour has changed to green.

The third person puts a leaf down. This time the leaf is still a green, maple. The attribute that has been changed is size. This leaf is small.

The fourth person puts down another leaf. Here the one attribute that has changed is the colour. We’ve gone back to yellow.

The activity continues until no more leaves can be placed in a line. Like with dominoes you can work either end of the line.

Below, the next change has been the species. We have a small, red different leaf (I’ve yet to work out the species – please tell me if you know).

Here the colour is the one attribute change again. If you are playing this in a windy place then put stones on top of the leaves to stop them blowing away.

Once children have got the hang of this activity, it is easy to introduce Carroll Diagrams, which involve sorting objects according to defined attributes.

Doing this logic activity with leaves adds an additional level of challenge in the leaves are not homogenous in size, shape or colour so a continuous discussion is needed as to how to make decisions as to what makes a leaf big or small or a particular colour.

This has been linked to the Magic Onion blog and the Friday Nature Table.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Lily Horseman October 8, 2010 at 20:23

I love this idea Juliet, fantastic.

We think the leaf is a kind of whitebeam, Sorbus intermedia possibly.
Thanks for sharing.


Teacher Tom October 8, 2010 at 20:53

We’ll have to give this a try, Juliet.

Our favorite leaf game is to run a leaf matching relay race. Each child on the relay team holds a leaf from a different type of plant. As their turn comes up, they run to a table at the opposite end of the course and have to “match” their leaf to one that comes from the same type of plant, then return to the start where the next teammate runs with his leaf. Sometimes we do it as a cooperative game with only one team and other times we divide into two teams and compete. It’s often difficult matching leaves, especially since, as you point out, the sizes and colors can vary.


Debi October 10, 2010 at 03:54

We were inspired by leaves this week, too, gathering up our favorites and creating a leaf “bouquet.” Such a fun time of year!


La Tea Dah October 10, 2010 at 08:43

Great idea! Thanks so much for sharing.

~ DL ~
Home Educating the Whole Child


Juliet Robertson October 10, 2010 at 17:14

Thanks for the feedback. I think leaves are an incredibly versatile open-ended resource.


Wabi-Sabi Wanderings October 11, 2010 at 03:31

Oh, I am liking this activity! I have some little ones who would quite enjoy it. Thank you.


Abbie October 11, 2010 at 20:52

This is a wonderful idea. Not sure that my 2.5 year old could do it but I may try and adapt it a bit and just work on finding leaves that match certain descriptors; kind of a precursor activity to yours.
Thanks for sharing.


Margaret October 13, 2014 at 06:48

Thank you, this is what I’ve been looking for. I past on the idea .
Margaret from Poland.


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