Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Trees, Trees, and Leaves

Jacqueline Roberts
Bay District Schools


Florida has a unique tree population. Using a variety of resources, students will research trees indigenous to Florida, design a Florida map, give an oral presentation, and discern the presence or absence of growth patterns.


The student organizes information using appropriate systems.

The student uses volume, stress, pacing, enunciation, eye contact, and gestures that meet the needs of the audience and topic.

The student uses details, illustrations, analogies, and visual aids to make oral presentations that inform, persuade, or entertain.

The student knows that scientists control conditions in order to obtain evidence, but when that is not possible for practical or ethical reasons, they try to observe a wide range of natural occurrences to discern patterns.


-A variety of Florida leaves
-Optional Reference Material
-Blank Florida map
-Pages in the associated file

-Suggested Resource Material (helpful but not required) includes:

-Anderson, Robert., [Guide to Florida Trees], Winner Enterprises, January 1988.

-Lanzaja, Paola and Pizzetti, Mariella., [Simon and Schuster's Guide to Trees], Simon and Schuster Inc., New York, 1997.

-Little, Elbert L., [National Audubon Society: Field Guide to North American Trees, Eastern Region], A Chanticleer Press ed., Alford A. Knopf Publishing, New York, 1980.

-Nelson, Gil and Cook Marvin., [Trees of Florida: A Reference and Field Guide], Pineapple Press Inc., February 1994.

-Petrides, George A., [Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Trees], Houghton Mifflin Co., Houston, New York, 1998.

-Rushforth, Keith., [International Paper Pocket Guide to Trees], Mitchell Beasley International Ltd., 1992.

-Taylor, Norman., [Taylor's Guide to Trees], Houghton Mifflin Co., 1961.

-[Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds]. Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, Tallahassee, FL 2001.

-[Forest Trees of Florida], Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer
Service., 1999.

[Atlas of Florida],(CD) EDUQUEST an IBM Co., Florida State University: Institute of Science and Public Affairs, Florida department of Education.


1. Determine the availability of resource material and Internet access before starting this activity. (See Materials list.)
2. Know how to write a bibliography for written and Internet sources.
3. Determine the number of trees to be identified. (Students' activity suggests ten trees. This can be adjusted based on availability of resource material and individual teacher.)
4. Know leaf, vein, and lobe patterns. Review Uniquely Leaves I. (See Weblinks.)

5. Know broad classification of forests. Review Uniquely Leaves, another Beacon lesson (see Weblinks) or teacher and students brainstorm tree locations.
Example: deciduous woods, evergreen woods, mixed woods, in the city, along streets and highways, parks, gardens, by or near the water, and open countryside.

6. Know or is familiar with traits that can be used as Miscellaneous Traits.
Example: range, habitat, climate, autumn foliage coloration, flower, seed, seed dispersal. (See Materials list.)

7. Student Research: Assign cooperative learning groups to research trees throughout the state, separate state into regions (FLORIDA CAMP DIRECTORY and /or FLORIDA ATLAS) and assign students to research a specific region, or allow students to select a region randomly. Make sure that no two groups select the same region.

8. Optional – Teacher may wish to use student checklist to help students organize/manage information and data. (See Associated file for Attachment #4.)

9. Post oral, illustrative, and essay rubric. Review project expectations with students.

10. Optional - Teacher may wish to use professionally prepared leaves, collect local leaves, or prepare a selection of leaf pictures for demonstration purposes. Xerox copies of natural leaves work well.


NOTE: Students must have some prior knowledge before doing this activity. Please see the Extension section.

STUDENT ACTIVITY – Cooperative Learning Model
1. Working in small groups (3 to 4), students use a variety of resources to research ten trees that are indigenous to Florida. Before beginning research, share appropriate criteria for what you expect from cooperative workers with the students. Share the Group Checklist in the associated file with students.

2. Students, using their research notes, prepare a table consisting of the following information:
a. Name of Tree (common name and scientific name if available)
b. Growth location
c. Lobe, blade, and vein pattern
d. Miscellaneous traits significant to the tree’s identification
e. Bibliography
(See Associated file for Attachment #1.)
You will need to model this for students and circulate as they work. Offer formative feedback.

3. Students draw leaf.
(See Associated file for Attachment #2.)
Again, model this for students and share the criteria to be included for successful drawings. Remind them that the artwork won’t be graded, but the specific criteria to be included will.

4. Students prepare a map of Florida showing:
a. The location (s) of ten selected trees
b. Points of interest, i.e. major cities, lakes, etc.
c. State capital
d. Panama City, Florida
(See Associated file for Rubric Assessment #1.)
Model for students how to analyze their data to complete this step. Circulate and offer feedback as students work.

5. Students demonstrate their knowledge through an oral presentation.
Share the rubric with students. Model examples and non-examples of oral presentations. Point out on the rubric, the criteria for which the student will be held accountable. (See associated file for Rubric Assessment #2.)

6. Students review all maps. Have a class discussion and allow students to analyze together the information that is on each map.

7. Individually, students analyze all maps and prepare a chart reflecting the distribution of identified trees. (See Associated File for Attachment #3.) You will need to do an example for students, showing them the process of analyzing the maps and then recording the information.

8. Students write an essay summarizing/ discussing patterns found or not found supported by information on all student maps and tables. (See Associated File for Rubric Assessment #3.) Share the criteria on the rubric with students prior to them beginning to write. Make sure that they understand that they are not being assessed on conventions; however, you expect them to proofread and correct their errors.

9. Teacher assesses activity.


1. A rubric will be used to determine student knowledge through an oral presentation.
(See associated file – Assessment 1.)

2. A rubric will be used to assess map.
(See associated file – Assessment 2.)

3. Students write analysis of patterns found or not found. This should be supported by information found on all student maps and tables. (See attachment – Assessment 3.)

Note: Some assessment is group and some is individual. Formative assessment and feedback occur throughout the lesson as the teacher circulates and offers suggestions/ideas/guidance to the students.

Web Links

Web supplement for Trees, Trees, and Leaves
Florida Plants

Web supplement for Trees, Trees, and Leaves
Uniquely Leaves

Web supplement for Trees, Trees, and Leaves
Trees of Florida

Web supplement for Trees, Trees, and Leaves
Trees of South Florida

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