The beautiful changing leaves of fall can help capture students’ attention and make them excited to engage in meaningful math activities. I initially created these fun math STEAM activities for early elementary students, but I've tweaked my printable lesson plan so it works in grades 1–6.
With these STEAM activities, elementary students will engage in topics related to life science, measurement and data skills in math, and using artistic representations examine and analyze data.
The beautiful changing leaves of fall can help capture students’ attention and make them excited to engage in meaningful math activities.
STEAM activities for elementary students connect with many areas of the curriculum. Here are some of the connections you can use for this lesson.
Within the life sciences, students are learning about the different parts of plants: roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruit. They are learning about the functions of these structures.
Within mathematics, students are learning to analyze and represent categorical data.
Within the realm of art, students are discussing color, and their choices about how they set up their bar graphs include choices about the visual organization of the page. Using artistic creations to communicate a concept or idea is an important part of the art curriculum.
Within literature, there are many fall-themed books that would pair well with this STEAM lesson. In the lesson plan download, you’ll find a list of books appropriate for the different grade levels about leaves and fall.
For creative writing, this post from Vocab Gal uses Haiku to discuss fall themes. Or you can complete the poem-writing activity provided in the download.
This project is not resource intensive. Most of what you need is provided in the Fall-Inspired Math STEAM Lesson. These include:
Leaf Samples– You will need to provide different samples of leaves and colors so that not every student’s graph comes out the same. If you live in an area that has fall foliage, you could collect your own leaf samples. If you don't have the ability or time to collect leaf samples, you can use the four different leaf samples provided in my download.
Color Printer– You will need a color printer to take full advantage of the downloads. After all, this is about leaves having different colors!
Colored Pencils or Crayons– Students will want to use colored pencils or crayons when creating their graphs.
Sorting Chart, Pictograph, and Bar Graph Templates– You will need a variety of sorting chart, pictograph and bar graph templates. All of these have been provided in my download. Depending on the previous experience of your students with graphs, they might not need the templates. In that case, they can be used for differentiation opportunities for students with special needs.
Other Materials– For students who are still in a concrete stage, you might want to provide scissors and glue so that they can cut out and physically manipulate the leaves to make their pictographs.
Prior to class, review and select the leaf templates, sorting charts, and graphs your students will use for this lesson. Select which of the templates provided in my lesson plan are most useful for your students. You will also need to decide if you want students to complete these activities in pairs or individually.
Are you interested in having them simply sort and count the leaves, create pictographs and bar graphs, or make comparisons between graphs? Do you want students to make a graph sorted by color or by leaf type. Alternatively, if your students have some experience with graphs, let them to decide how to sort the leaves and give them a generic, unlabeled template. Finally, do you want to give students a graph template or have them create their graph on their own. This will depend on your students’ level of experience with creating graphs and their skill at setting them up.
Once you have identified your objective and the templates your students will need, print out individual copies for each student. Each student will need their own leaf sample template, sorting chart template, pictograph template, bar graph template, and poem writing activity worksheet.
Prior to class you will also need to gather photos of color changes in foliage, select a fall-themed book for a read aloud, and plan question prompts. For more information regarding preparation, download my lesson.
To keep this article word count down, I've provided all the details for the math STEAM activities in the Fall-Inspired Math STEAM Lesson. Download includes: