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Resources for extending the learning
See Lesson 7: Seasons of a Forest
See: 4 Seasons of a Tree
Featured Process: It’s fall, after all
Leaves are falling, or have fallen. The ground in wooded areas is a kaleidoscope of colour. That corky layer we mentioned in early October has done its job – an adaptation to the increasing darkness, and “drought” that is coming when the surface- and some groundwater freezes.
Keep an eye out for what trees are still clinging to their leaves. Among natives, there may be young American Beech, Sugar Maple, and Ironwood, and mature Red Oaks, Silver Maples, and Tamaracks. Tamaracks (or larches), our only conifer that drops its needles in the autumn, in particular are bright yellow beacons along the edges of now-drab wetlands.
And just as exotic or introduced species may have turned colour later, they will also drop their leaves later. See if any Norway Maples (often dotted with tar spots ) or Common Buckthorns are still holding some leaves by Remembrance Day, or later. Also compare the amount of leaves still on trees in and outside of town. Most city trees, especially ones near streetlights, tend to hold their leaves longer than wild trees.
And if you can get to a fairly diverse woodlot, or even a playground surrounded by several different kinds of trees, have your kids each collect as many leaves as possible for 20 seconds or so, and then sort them into similar piles. See how many different kinds of trees there are, which tree has the biggest pile of leaves, count and graph, compare and contrast, do rubbings…whatever! See which nearby tree holds its leaves the longest, and when the very last leaf falls.