Learn to plant and maintain strong, healthy trees that will thrive for generations.

Acorn and Leaf Investigations

Learning Objectives:

Students will be able to:

  • Recognize that there are many different types of oak trees.
  • Identify an oak tree by its leaves and acorns.
  • Recognize the acorn as the seed of an oak.

Time: 30 minutes


For each student:

For the class:

  • Regional field guides and other reference materials
  • Acorns and oak leaves
  • Hand lenses (optional)


Divide the class into small groups of three or four students. Give each group an assortment of leaves and acorns and ask them to work together, using their tree decks, to determine which type of oak each leaf and acorn fell from.

Guide students to notice the difference in acorn caps. Some are “warty,” while others are scaly like “shingles” on a roof. These are useful characteristics that can be used to identify oak species. If you have them, distribute hand lenses to the students for closer examination of leaf edges and surfaces. Students may sketch the leaves and acorns in their journals.

Discuss the characteristics of oaks from your region. Can you successfully identify the oaks in your study area? Create a list of adjectives that describe the characteristics of the leaves and acorns you collect and post it in the classroom. This will support students in their efforts to accurately describe tree attributes orally and in writing.

When finished, keep the leaves and several acorns for future activities, but return the majority of the acorns to the study area.