Learn the main characteristics of plant leaves

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Different leaves


Activity suitable for biology or natural sciences lesson about plant leaves.

Aims and Objectives

  • Learn to look at leaves carefully and develop a stronger perception
  • Classify leaves
  • Learn how to identify plants by their leaves

School level

Primary school and 5-6th grade.

Identification key

Customized KeyToNature key or any other key which includes the set of plants that you intend to identify with your students.

Expected time

1 hour

Materials and Equipment

  • Sets of different types of leaves
  • Access to computers for the web-based identification key and quiz

Further resources

Background information

Leaves are highly heterogeneous. Once students examine the leaves of plants they are going to find this out. Differences can be due to age of a plant, damage, environmental and other factors. If students have to classify leaves by themselves, they develop a stronger perception; they learn to look carefully and to perceive the differences - they "open their eyes".

Preparation (Teacher set up)

  • You need to collect different types of leaves. You will probably find enough sources in the school garden or in the surroundings of the school.
  • Check how much you know on the characters of plant leaves by doing the quiz “The main character of plant leaves”. In you find that you have some knowledge gaps you can complete the learning unit on identification.
  • If you don't have access to the internet, you must upload the identification key on computers.


  1. Students examine different leaves of a species and try to identify common characteristics they find out. They classify leaves by themselves.
  2. Students sample the features of a certain population and for instances build up a model of the leaf they found and afterwards compare with the leaves in the book.
  3. After this students identify a set of plants on the base of characteristics of the leaves.
  4. Students explain what they found out and complete this with the technical terms.
  5. At the end students can do the quiz on “The main characters of plant leaves” provided by the KeyToNature project. You can ask students to perform it at home (as homework) and let them report on their experiences and scores in the next class.