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Design a state travel guide to fall foliage

Lesson Plans by subject 

September 7, 2001
Web posted at: 3:46 PM EDT (1946 GMT)

Overview: What is the lure of fall foliage? How do leaves change into such colorful hues? Where is the best place to view leaves as they peak? In this lesson, students make these and other determinations about autumn leaves as they create a fall foliage brochure for international tourists.

Curriculum connections: Science-biology, earth science; Social studies--geography, environment

Students will:

  • Identify and describe regional aspects of fall foliage
  • Produce a travel brochure highlighting fall foliage in a specific U.S. state

Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
Grades 6-8
Standard 2: Students know the location of places, geographic features and patterns of the environment
Standard 4: Students understand the physical and human characteristics of place.
Standard 6: Students understand relationships among organisms and their physical environment
Standard 7: Students understand biological evolution and the diversity of life

Materials article " Summer leaves for fall's finery "
Internet access
Arts and crafts materials (construction paper, oak tag, markers, glue, etc.)
List of nationwide fall foliage resources
Reproducible national, state and regional maps
Sample tourism brochures and guides
Leaf and tree science, nature and environmental resources
Fall foliage visuals

Suggested time
Article and questions only-20 minutes
Full lesson plan-Two-three classroom periods

1) Invite students to visualize and describe an afternoon drive or stroll along a tree-lined road on an autumn day.
2) Direct students to read the CNNfyi article a " Summer leaves for fall's finery "and then respond to the following questions:

  • What happens to the leaves of trees in autumn? What trees make for a good mix of fall colors? What causes leaves to change color?

  • Which parts of the world are ranked highest for autumn color displays? Which parts of the United States provide colorful fall leaf displays? Do you have a favorite place to see the change of leaves? Discuss.

  • What environmental factors make it difficult to predict when leaf colors will peak? Based on the history of fall foliage season where you live, when do you think the leaves will turn color?

3) Divide students into groups representing states (including theirs, if applicable) where fall foliage is an attraction. Instruct each group to research the following:

  • types and names of trees (in lay and scientific terms)
  • regions where trees thrive
  • the colors leaves turn for each tree species
  • standard peak time for each tree
  • best places and ways to view the foliage
  • other scientific information, such as the impact of environmental hazards on fall foliage and the shapes and sizes of leaves.

Have each group synthesize its research to develop a tourism guide to fall foliage in its state. As representatives of a state tourism agency, invite each group to "pitch" its fall foliage travel experience at a mock tourism fair attended by international tourists.

Students can create a wall-sized collage of fall foliage visuals from around the nation and/or the world, and then, to accompany the collage, create an environmental slogan that speaks to the importance of protecting nature.

Explain that environmental factors, including drought, early frost, acid rain, climatic change, excessive rainfall and insects, impact tree and leaf cycles. Help students to conduct research to identify and learn about these environmental hazards. Group students and instruct each group to research the impact of its factor on fall foliage over the last decade and chart its findings on a timeline or graph. After groups present their findings, ask students to identify which of the environmental hazards are natural and which are "manmade." Then, have students recommend ways to combat the manmade hazards to protect the natural life span of trees and their foliage.

New England foliage fascinates 'leaf-peepers'
Oct. 19, 1996
• CNN TravelGuide: The Colors of Fall
Web offers kaleidoscope of autumn sites
Oct. 3, 1996
• Drought's effect on fall colors debated
ENN News
Environmental News Network
Your leading news source on the environment

• USDA Forest Service
• The Foliage Network - Providing accurate fall foliage conditions
• The Miracle of Fall - Foliage Trees
• Fall Foliage
• Personal AccuWeather : Fall Foliage FAQs

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