Lesson Plans on Trees: Adopt a Tree in Autumn for Science Observation

Page content

A Tree in Autumn

In this Trees and Seasons unit, students are learning about the cycle of the tree and the cycle of the seasons at the same time through adopting a classroom tree. See the first lesson in the series below.

Start this lesson plan late in October when the leaves on the adopted tree have begun to change color and fall off of the deciduous tree.


Materials: Tree journals and pencils.

Prior Knowledge: Say, “We have adopted the tree outside and recorded how it looked in the summer. Now we are in the autumn season and will observe and record how the tree looks now.” Elicit feedback from the students as to how the tree looked in summer, what we wore when we went outside to observe the tree and how the weather was. Have the students review their journals.

Teach: Read the book, A Tree for All Seasons by, Robin Bernard again. In the fall the weather changes from very warm to cool. When it is cool, we need to wear warmer clothes. Check the temperature and record it with the class. The temperature in a primary class should be checked daily at circle time. The tree outside is changing as well. The leaves are falling off of the tree as the tree prepares itself for the next season, winter. The reason that the leaves change color is that the summer leaves are drying up and as they do, they change from green to yellow, red and orange. Each day more and more leaves will fall.


Students place a title on their journal page, “Autumn”.

As it is chilly outside, students will need a sweater or jacket. Take the students outside to observe the fall tree.

While outside, ask the students to describe what they see and feel. Again, gather a few fall leaves to observe and describe. Compare the differences between the fall and the summer leaves.

Ask the students to describe the weather and compare the differences.

Once inside the students draw a picture of the tree based upon their observations. They draw themselves and how they needed to be dressed for the weather. They also draw a picture that depicts the weather. Have students label the picture with letters or words.

Provide students with a paper thermometer to record the day’s temperature.

Assess: Do students accurately depict the tree in the fall, the weather and the clothing that they are wearing? Is the picture labeled and neat?

Extend: This is a great time of the year to teach about the apple harvest. A great resource to read to the students is Apples, by Gail Gibbons. Like the author of the book, A Tree for All Seasons, the author takes the students through the cycle of the apple tree. Compare the cycle of the tree in the school yard with the apple tree in the book.


  • Teaching experience.

This post is part of the series: Trees and Seasons Unit: Introduction

Teaching seasons and trees covers a lot of science material. The reason we need trees, parts of a tree, seasons and even family trees in the unit as a home and school connection. Included as well is literacy and music connections.

  1. Science for K-Grade 3: Starting Your Trees and Seasons Unit
  2. Summer Lesson Plan: All About a Tree in Summer
  3. Adopting a Tree in this Fall Lesson Plan
  4. Winter Trees: Winter Lesson Plan For Grade School Students
  5. Spring Trees Lesson Plan
  6. A Tree Observation Activity for Science Lessons
  7. Parts of a Tree: An Interactive Bulletin Board
  8. An Easy and Fun Family Tree Project