Describing Oak Leaves

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Learners work in teams to investigate how scientists use physical characteristics to classify living things. First, learners examine drawings of a variety of leaves from different species of oak trees and work to develop the characteristics of a "typical" oak leaf. Then, learners examine samples of oak leaves and work to classify them. This activity uses drawings of leaves, but it could also work with a collection of real leaves.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
free per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • journals
  • activity sheets
  • Types of Oak Leaves sheet (p3 of PDF)
  • oak leaves (optional)


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
      • Classification
    • Ecology
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, American Museum of Natural History, 2001