Not Just for Kids
Leafy Scavenger Hunt
by Martha Blume
Fall is time for deciduous leaves to perform the last miracle in their life cycle release their grip and fall to the ground to become compost for next springs new sprouts. Isabels given the falling of leaves a head start this year.
Find a patch of woods and try this leafy scavenger hunt.
But first you need to know a few leaf words.
A compound leaf has one stem attached to the twig with a number of smaller leaves, leaflets, coming off of it.
Opposite leaves come off of the branch in pairs; alternate leaves do just that: they alternate on the branch.
Entire leaves have a smooth edge; toothed leaves have jagged edges; leaves are called lobed when the spaces between the teeth run one-third or more of the way to the center of the leaf.
Leaves can be many shapes: oval, elliptical, ovate (egg-shaped), lance (spear-shaped), triangular or heart-shaped. One is even mitten-shaped. Can you find it?
Find these leaves from trees native to Maryland
- a leaf sometimes shaped like a mitten, but not always (Sassafras)
- a leaf that grows opposite on the tree, has teeth and three to five sharp lobes with V-shaped notches between the lobes (Red Maple)
- an ellipse-shaped leaf with very fine teeth, growing alternate on a tree with very smooth gray bark; the twigs are very sharp (American Beech)
- a leaf with deep rounded lobes and acorns (White Oak)
- a four-lobed leaf with pointy lobes but an otherwise entire edge; tree is very straight and tall (Tulip-tree)
- a compound leaf with five finely toothed leaflets; bark of tree is shaggy and the fruit is a green nut (Shagbark Hickory)
Using the descriptions above, can you identify these leaves?
Grab a pencil and some paper to write down your answers. When you're finished, click here to see how you did!
Good places to go looking for leaves:
- Sandy Point State Park in Anne Arundel County
- Calvert Cliffs in Calvert County
- Tuckahoe State Park in Queen Annes County
- Cedarville State Forest in Prince Georges County
Deck your Halls with Fall
Collect some of the brightest leaves and small leafy branches and bring them home. Spread newspapers out on a picnic table or kitchen table. In a jar or vase, mix one-part glycerine (from a drug store) with three-parts of hot tap water. Using a small hammer, gently pound the ends of the branches and stems to break them open a bit. This will help them absorb water. Stick the branches and leaves in the glycerine. In about a week they will be soft and pliable and the leaves will keep their color.
Remove them from the glycerine and use them to make a wreath for your door or a centerpiece for your table. Add dried berries or flowers.
Kids Stuff This Week
Thursday, October 16
Children with special needs ages 4-5 and their families use objects from nature to make art projects with director Deborah Wood. 1-2pm @ Chesapeake Childrens Museum, Silopanna Rd., Annapolis. $5 w/museum admission: 410/990-1993 www.theccm.org.
Friday, October 17
Halloween Kids Class
Kids of all ages will have fun painting a spooky haunted house to hang for the holidays. The house will also serve as a bird feeder during the winter. 10-noon @ PaintN Pottery, Rt. 2/4 South at 5 Oxford Way, Huntingtown. $24; rsvp: 301/855-8000.
Tuesday, October 21
The leaves will be changing color soon. Bring the whole family to join the rangers in hunt for natures gifts, such as seeds that will be reborn next spring. 10:30am-noon @ Kings Landing Park, Kings Landing Rd., Huntingtown. $3 w/discounts; rsvp: 410/535-5327.
Wednesday, October 22
Kids ages 26 join in for a sing along, story time and have fun making crafts. 10am @ Brooklyn Park Library, 1 East 11th Ave. off Ritchie Hwy. free: 410/222-6260.
Sunday, October 26kids of all ages and their families are invited to explore fall foliage with a park naturalist. Learn about trees, plants, seeds and animals. Gather leaves for identification and press and save. 12pm @ Flag Ponds Nature Park,, off Rt. 2 /4, Lusby. $3 w/discounts; rsvp: 410/586-1477.