Free Nature Studies: Green Leaf Factories (Leaves)

Leaves are the factories that manufacture the world’s food.

Read the current chapter online: “Green Leaf Factories”

  • Study the chemical composition of air. Complete a notebooking page for each element. You’ll find resources below to help.
  • Narrate the process of photosynthesis as described in the lesson. (You’ll find resources below for further and more in-depth study.)
  • Study the carbon cycle at
  • Discover the anatomy of a leaf. Resources below.
  • Make a list of the purposes of leaves (help the plant take in carbon, protect the plant, distribute water, and for food).
  • Take a look at an elephant ear in the video below. Based on where this plant normally grows, why do you think it has such big leaves?
  • Make a list of the different types of leaves. Besides those shown and mentioned in the lesson, you’ll find more help below.
  • Make your own leaf identification guide.
  • The Bible verses are taken from Jeremiah 17:8 and Psalm 1:3.
  • Something to do #1:  The craft can also be accomplished similarly to sun prints.
  • Something to do #2: You’ll want to label a notebook page “parallel-veined leaves” and copy drawings of a lily leaf, grass blade, and corn leaf. You’ll find resources below for adding other parallel-veined leaves to your page.
  • Something to do #3: Copy a maple leaf, geranium leaf, and apple leaf onto a notebook page. Use the resources below to help determine the type of veining they have and add to your list.
  • Something to do #4: You’ll find leaf craft ideas including card-making below.
  • Memorize and recite Jeremiah 17:7, 8.
  • Use Revelation 22:2 for copywork or dictation.
  • More about plants from the Book of Knowledge:

Leaves are the factories that manufacture the world’s food. Man and all the animals depend for food on photosynthesis, as this process is called. Look at a living leaf in the sunlight. Nothing seems to be happening. But if we could make ourselves small enough to creep into one of the tiny openings in the leaf we would find ourselves in a scene of bustling activity. Streams of molecules (the smallest particles) of water come up from the roots through the veins of the leaves. Crowds of carbon-dioxide molecules float through the tiny openings in the leaf’s skin. Inside the leaf factory everything is efficiently arranged. The upper and lower surfaces of the leaf are protected by a layer of cells called the epidermis. The outer cell walls of the epidermis produce a waterproof cuticle. This cuticle protects the leaf as the outer layers of our skin protect us — by preventing the inside tissues from drying and by keeping out disease germs.

There are millions of openings — called stomata — usually on the underside of the leaf. (Stomata is the Latin word for “mouths.” The singular is stoma.) Each stoma has two sausage-shaped guard cells which open and close the stoma by expanding and contracting. If we follow a carbon-dioxide molecule in through a stoma, we notice that there are numerous air spaces in the lower part of the leaf. Molecules of carbon dioxide, oxygen and water vapor bounce against each other and against the loosely arranged cells of the spongy mesophyll, as this region is called. Studded around the inside of the mesophyll cells, near the surface, are beautiful green chloroplasts, which contain the precious green chlorophyll. These chloroplasts, although far too small to be seen with the naked eye, are enormously larger than the molecules which rush around like so many tiny bobbing billiard balls….

The chloroplasts absorb energy from the sunlight and use this energy to force the water and carbon dioxide to go through a series of changes. Soon both water and carbon-dioxide molecules have broken up into atoms and the chlorophyl has made the atoms recombine in other ways. Result: six molecules of water and six molecules of carbon dioxide disappear; six molecules of oxygen gas and one much larger molecule of glucose sugar have come into existence. Most of the oxygen molecules go dancing and jostling out through the stomata; the sugar is either put through more changes to form starch or else it dissolves in the sap, a watery solution that fills the center of each cell.

The plant now makes all sorts of foods and other useful substances, using sugar as the basic material to make the other substances.

“The Structure of Seed Plants,” The Book of Knowledge
  • Plants
    Ready to go outdoors? The Handbook of Nature study covers plants beginning on page 453, and continuing through page 731. The beginning pages cover how to begin the study of plants and their flowers, and then moving into specific wildflowers, weeds, garden flowers, cultivated crop plants, trees, and flowerless plants.

Further Investigation

Plant Parts: Leaves
Interactive at the University of Illinois for younger students. Includes simple description of photosynthesis.

Plant Structures: Leaves
The function, structure, and features of leaves for older students at the Colorado State University Extension Center.

Chemical composition and its role in converting sunlight into food for advanced students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Why Leaves Change Color
What happens to the chlorophyll as plants prepare for winter?

The Parts of a Leaf
Plant leaf anatomy at

Leaves and Leaf Anatomy
Helpful diagrams at

Elephant Ears
(You may want to install an ad blocker before viewing.)


Interactive Periodic Chart
Help at for creating a notebook page for each element in the composition of air as mentioned above.

Animation from

Photosynthesis and Transpiration
Experiment at examining the effect light and air has on plants.

A Newton’s Apple experiment to find out what happens when a plant cannot get enough sunlight to use photosynthesis to produce food.

Secrets Hidden in the Leaves
A Mr. Q free Lab Notes experiment that uses chromatography to separate the pigments within the cells of a leaf (5th Life Science activity).

Identify By Leaf
Interactive guide at Ohio Public Library that walks you through identifying trees by their leaves and leaf types.

Magic Leaf Drawing
Making a leaf print. This simple craft from will work well for the card activity mentioned in the lesson.

String of Leaves
Fall leaf decoration from

Thankful Wreath of Leaves
Another fall leaf decoration from

Label Flowering Plant Anatomy
Labeling diagram from that includes the stem. You can label the remainder of the diagram as we come to those sections in future lessons.

The First Book of Plants {Free eBook}

The First Book of Plants {Free eBook}
Free public domain title that makes an excellent introduction to plants and can be used as a helpful plant study reference.

Leaves and Flowers: Or, Plant Studies For Young Readers by Mary A. Spear
Delightful introduction to leaves for younger students.

Leaves and Flowers; or Object Lessons in Botany by Alphonso Wood
Everything an older student could ever want to know about leaves in this heavily-illustrated public domain work.

Free Nature Studies: How Plants Grow

The World of Plants by Dinah Zike
Dinah Zike was known for her foldables before lapbooks became popular. In this book she incorporates that learning tool with learning about plants. Includes 24 complete lessons including templates, activities, the scientific method and suggestions for further activities and research. You’ll find an example lesson at the publisher’s website. Lessons on roots, stems and leaves are included.

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans

Beginning Plants
Free chapter excerpt and sample at Funtastic Unit Studies with activities for covering seeds, roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and growing plants aimed at 4-7 year olds.

Leave It To Leaves
Informative, colorful download at Texas Parks and Wildlife that includes background information and activities.

Plant Parts We Eat
Helpful short unit study at the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service that includes activities and worksheets covering science, art, language arts, and math.

Plant Parts We Eat
11-page download from the Texas Farm Bureau includes a small booklet to put together with room for listing flowers, stems, leaves, roots, and seeds that we eat.

Photosynthesis Lesson Plan

The Periodic Table of Elements: A Unit Study

The Periodic Table: A Unit Study
Whether or not you decide to delve into the entire unit, you’ll still find dozens of resources that go along with a study of the chemical composition of air.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

Notebooking page at that can be used for each element that makes up the chemical composition of air (scroll down).

Photosynthesis Infographic
Free poster at (Free registration required for PDF download.)

Structure of a Leaf
Diagram of plant leaf anatomy for notebook at The Visual Dictionary.

Section of a Leaf
Cross-section from The Visual Dictionary.

Leaf Morphology
Diagram showing shape and arrangement, margin and venation.

Leaf It To Me
Nature journal page from Ranger Rick.

Photosynthesis Student Worksheet
For HHMI animation above.

Nature Journal Notebooking Sets {Free Download}

Nature Journal Notebooking Sets {Free Download}
Free blank nature journal sets for drawing, illustrating, copying, or narrating.

Green Leaf Factories Notebooking Pages
Simple pages for copywork, narrations, or wrapping up.

Enjoy the complete series:
Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World
Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World

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