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This innovative activity pairs nature and math to reinforce key concepts related to surface area and perimeter. Students locate leaf specimens and then use rulers, string and graph paper to calculate the area and perimeter of each sample.
This activity offers a meaningful way for students to strengthen their understanding of how factors like shape can affect the perimeter and area of objects. The outdoor learning could be expanded by having students measure and calculate the area and perimeter of habitat types within school grounds and creating a scale map that shows the natural features of the school yard.
Science concepts can be easily integrated with the math learning by having students identify their leaf specimens using a dichotomous key, classify and sort leaves according to taxonomic criteria or examining leaf structures with magnifying instruments. In the fall the math lesson could also be partnered with a unit exploring seasonal changes and adaptations of deciduous and coniferous trees to cold weather.
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