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Graphing greenery




Return to Fall Lessons? We've "G-autumn"!


Subjects mathematics



Brief Description

In this lesson, students gather leaves and trace them on graph paper. They then plot coordinates that approximate the shape of the leaves and share those coordinates as "worksheets" for other students to complete.


  • find and identify coordinates of points in a drawing on graph paper
  • solve a graphing puzzle created by another student.


fall, leaves, graph, coordinates, plot, autumn, photosynthesis, September

Materials needed

  • assorted leaves
  • graph paper
  • writing paper
  • pencils
  • colored pencils or markers (optional)

Lesson plan

Multicolored foliage of brilliant hues is a solid indication that autumn has arrived. This activity makes use of beautiful fall leaves as patterns for graphing coordinates.

To begin, have all students collect three leaves of varying shape and size. Select an appropriate graph paper for students age and experience. Distribute the graph paper, and instruct the students to draw and label the x and y lines. (You may use a single quadrant, with all numbers positive, or four quadrants to make the assignment more difficult. See Introduction to coordinates for a review.)

Have the students choose a simple leaf to trace onto the graph paper. Ask them to remove the leaf when they have finished tracing and locate points on the graph that when connected will create an outline of the leaf's shape. You may give a range or ideal number of points for students to identify. (Keep in mind the size of the grid on the graph paper.) Next, instruct the students to list on a separate sheet of paper the coordinates (x, y) they have found. Make sure that they begin with a single point, follow the outline in order, and end at the same point.

Hiding their original tracings, have the students exchange coordinate lists with partners and plot the new lists of points. By connecting the points in order, they should be able to recreate a similar leaf shape. When they have completed their plotting, the students may compare and correct their graphs and compare the graphs to the original leaves. Have the students analyze their graphs and leaves. Are the leaves symmetrical? How do the students' leaves and graphs differ in size and shape?

To create more of a challenge, have the students select new leaves and find coordinates to the nearest .5 on the graph paper. For fun, have students color these leaf graphs and display them. Note: If you choose, you may reserve the leaves gathered by students for use in other activities contained in this collection of fall lessons.


All graphs should contain the requisite number of coordinate sets as determined by the teacher, and students should correct their own work in pairs.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Cara Bafile



See more fall lessons in our Awesome Autumn archive.

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Originally published 09/20/2002
Last updated 09/05/2015