by Joy Lubawy
Here in Australia we are in the midst of autumn, and while most of our native trees are not deciduous, we have a lot of exotic trees (our word for foreign) in neighborhood landscapes and gardens, especially in the south of the country.
Right here at home we have an amazing Chinese Tallow Tree in the front garden and each year it brings delights, but this year, I have begun to really look at it and notice something interesting that makes me wonder.
Some of the leaves are deep red, some are still green, some yellow, and some are orange; but I think that the smaller leaves are the ones that are changing color first. Could this be right? Once again, close observation and data collection is at the core of good hypothesizing.
There are so many conversations we can have about leaves, and autumn in general! One friend who lives further north in the country (where it’s warmer) asked the children if they were noticing anything a little different, and the children came up with 15 indicators of the changing seasons: wearing socks, shutting the doors at night, not going to the beach, their mothers making pumpkin soup, having to wear long pajamas, and so on. One child added–almost as an afterthought: “Oh, and one of the trees in town has started to turn yellow!” These conversations are a far cry from the usual, “Let’s do a theme about autumn, and give the children a stencil of an oak leaf to color in.” There are so many conversations to have about the changing seasons.
I know that in the Northern Hemisphere right now, spring is busy doing its thing, but measuring, weighing, collecting, classifying, and wondering about leaves can happen year-round!
Head outside and start wondering with the children. There are great ideas in Preschool Math to get you started.
Joy Lubawy has 30 years experience in the classroom with young children and now travels Australia and New Zealand, providing professional development in the areas of curriculum, imagination, creativity, and documentation. She has several other books and two music CD’s to her credit as well. She currently is writing distance education packages for Ballarat University in Victoria.
She lives in Wagga Wagga, NSW Australia.