Welcome Fall: Leaves Storia Teaching Guide
- Grades: PreK–K
The book engages young readers from the start with simple, brilliant photographs of trees and leaves. The text unfolds with a clear explanation of why leaves have color and why that color changes in the fall.
Students learn that leaves get their color from pigments and that chlorophyll is a green pigment that helps leaves make food through photosynthesis. When the days grow shorter in the fall, leaves do not get enough sunlight to make food, and the chlorophyll in leaves breaks down. As it does, other pigments begin to show, such as bright reds and deep yellows. As fall progresses, the trees no longer provide the leaves with water, leaf stems weaken, and the leaves fall to the ground.
The book’s simple text is punctuated with science content-area vocabulary. A focused reading with plenty of time to study the photographs will make the book a rewarding opportunity for students to understand the science of nature’s cycles in the fall.
Teaching the Book
With concise text and bright photographs, this nonfiction book explains the science behind the changing color of fall leaves. The book provides an opportunity to discuss seasonal changes, to identify main ideas and details, and to introduce science vocabulary related to leaves. Activities will engage students in researching seasonal changes, completing art projects, and exploring their environment.
Theme Focus: Seasons
Comprehension Focus: Main Idea and Details
Language Focus: Words Related to Leaves
Get Ready to Read
True or False?
Engage students’ interest and probe their prior knowledge with the following true or false questions.
- Fall is the season that follows spring. True or False? (False)
- Green leaves make food for trees. True or False? (True)
- Leaves turn red, orange, and yellow in the fall. True or False? (True)
- All trees lose their green color in the fall and winter. True or False? (False)
- In the fall, the days are shorter. True or False? (True)
You may want to tally and record students’ answers on chart paper or the whiteboard and return to the questions after reading the book.
Preview and Predict
Have students study the cover of Welcome Fall: Leaves. Ask them to describe what they see and explain why they think the leaves have changed color and dropped from the trees.
Words Related to Leaves
Introduce these words about plants and leaves, explaining that they are special science terms that describe what happens to leaves in the fall. Ask students to watch for the words as they read and to use the text and photographs to help them understand the words’ meanings.
Note that the words are in bold in the text and are defined on the last page of the book in the glossary. Use Resource #1: Vocabulary Cards and distribute copies to students.
Words to Know: Words Related to Leaves
Read aloud the following meanings for the vocabulary words, one at a time. Have students hold up the vocabulary card that matches each meaning.
- a chemical that gives something its color (pigment)
- having green leaves all year (evergreen)
- the pigment that makes leaves look green and helps them make food (chlorophyll)
- the process by which leaves make food (photosynthesis)
- the pigment that makes leaves look yellow and red (carotenoid)
- having leaves that are shed in the fall (deciduous)
As You Read
Reading the Book
Read the book aloud to students, modeling fluency and expression. Encourage students to follow along in their own books, studying the illustrations as each page is read. The read-aloud familiarizes students with the text and builds their listening skills.
Reread the book, asking students to read their copies at the same time. Cue them to read aloud certain words and phrases that you omit from your reading. Depending on the reading skills of the group, encourage them to read the text aloud, along with you.
Big Question: Critical Thinking
Ask students to think about this question as they read. Write the question on chart paper or the whiteboard. Why do leaves change color in the fall?
Explain to students that Welcome Fall: Leaves includes several important ideas that are called main ideas. These main ideas are supported by smaller ideas called details. The details tell more about a main idea. Identifying main ideas and details helps you understand what you are reading. Display for students the first spread of the book about pigments. Read the text on both pages aloud. Then model for students how to identify the main idea and details in the text, writing the sentences on chart paper or a whiteboard.
The first sentence is the main idea because it tells the most important idea—leaves get their color from pigments. I’ll write that at the top of the page. The other three sentences give details, or smaller ideas, about the pigments in leaves. I’ll write them under the main idea.
Use the cards on Resource #2: Main Idea and Details for students to practice identifying main ideas and details. Pass out copies of the cards and have students cut them apart and mixt them up. Then help students match each detail to the main idea it supports.
After You Read
Questions to Discuss
Lead students in a discussion of these focus story elements.
What are other signs of fall in addition to changing leaves? (Birds fly south; apples grow ripe on trees; the temperature gets colder.)
2. Main Idea and Details
Find a detail in the book that supports this main idea: In the fall, leaves change color. (The days are shorter. The leaves get less sunlight. The chlorophyll breaks down. Other pigments start to show.)
3. Words Related to Leaves
Is a Christmas tree an evergreen or a deciduous tree? (evergreen) Is carotenoid a vegetable or a pigment? (pigment)
Questions to Share
Encourage students to share their responses with a partner or small group.
1. Text to Self
What do you like best about fall leaves? Explain.
2. Text to World
What places in the world have trees that don’t change colors in the fall? What are some trees that don’t change color and lose their leaves in the fall?
3. Text to Text
What other books have you read that are about the seasons? Tell one fact you learned about the season of fall or another season.
Content Area Connections
Provide students with a collection of freshly fallen leaves; if possible, have students bring in their own collection. Give each student approximately 12 leaves and ask them to sort the leaves into groups. Encourage them to create their own groups or classifications for the leaves. After students have finished, ask them to describe the characteristics of the leaves they used to create the groupings. Discuss other ways they might have classified the leaves.
Fall Foliage Map
Take students on a leaf tour of the U.S.A. by logging into the Weather Channel’s site that shows maps of changing fall foliage in different parts of the country. The map is particularly helpful for students living in areas where foliage doesn’t change in the fall. Note that northern and high-elevation sites peak earlier in foliage color.
Students can discover for themselves how daylight grows shorter in the fall by looking at a fall calendar month on a website such as www.sunrisesunset.com. Ask them to describe how the time of sunrise changes during the month. How much does it increase from day to day? How much does it increase during the month? Ask them to also describe how the time of sunset changes and by how much.
Gather leaves of various shapes, sizes, and types. Have students cover a leaf with a piece of paper. Make sure the back side of the leaf is facing the paper. Give students crayons to create leaf rubbings, using the side of a crayon for best results. Have students study the resulting prints to see the veins in the leaves and their shape.
Ask students to keep a nature journal for one week. If possible, take them on a short walk outside the school to look for signs of the changing seasons. In their journals, have them write the day of the week at the top of a page and then record or draw something they see, hear, smell or feel in nature on that day. Encourage students to make a cover for their journal and illustrate it.
Don't Forget the Big Question
Give each student an opportunity to answer the big question. Encourage students to support their answers with details and evidence from the text. Why do leaves change color in the fall?
Leaves and the Seasons
Have students demonstrate their understanding of how leaves change through the seasons by using the Big Activity Resource. Explain that they will be drawing how the leaves on a tree look in each of the seasons. Then they can add a short caption to each drawing. When they finish, have students compare and discuss the drawings and captions.
This Storia e-book has the following enrichments to enhance students’ comprehension of the book.
- Picture Starter
- Scratch and See
- Word Search
- Multiple Choice with Pictures
- Jigsaw Puzzle
- Multiple Choice with Text
About the Author
Marilyn Easton has written numerous books for early readers including Welcome Fall: Leaves, Welcome Fall: Apples, and Welcome Fall: Pumpkins.
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