Leaves of a Different Color

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Students will be able to recognize color sight words.

Big Idea

Color sight word recognition.


15 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I ask them, “Has anyone noticed how the leaves are changing color?”

“Well did you know the leaves are actually red, yellow and orange all the time?” Most student look perplexed by this comment and I explain how the process of photosynthesis makes the green color from chlorophyll the dominant color. I discuss the meaning of dominant with the students. “Dominant is like the boss. I make the schedule in the classroom and decide when we do work stations etc, so I am dominant because I am the boss of the classroom schedule.”

“In the fall the leaves do not photosynthesize so the green chlorophyll loses the job as boss and the other colors can come out.”

The reason I discuss the word "dominant" with the students is because I like to take every opportunity to increase my students vocabulary. I like to take advantage of every teachable moment to add to the lesson. The word "dominant" came up in context so I was able to take advantage of this and add a new word to my students vocabulary word bank. 

Now I have the students stand up and get ready to do an action song. “Please stand up and use washing machine arms to make sure you have enough space to move without bumping into your friends.”

Once everyone has found a space where they can move freely, we sing the song All the Leaves are Falling Down by Songs4Teachers.com. 

We do the actions suggested and then I ask if anyone has any suggestions for another verse. I usually find there are one or two students with good suggestions. I have students suggest we jump in the leaves, so we mimic jumping in the leaves while singing;

“We all like to jump in leaves, jump in leaves, jump in leaves.

We all like to jump in leaves,

And mess up the pile.”

 Another student has suggested we use a leaf blower (that was a challenge).

“We like to blow the leaves, blow the leaves, blow the leaves.

We all like to blow the leaves,

Back into a pile.”

After we have finished singing I have the students sit back down on their spots on the rug. Sit Down Song

I like to use music and movement whenever I can as it is a great way to engage my kinesthetic learners and also get the wiggles out. Movement with intention anchors learning and prepares the brain to receive new information. I find my students listen move attentively when we have regular movement breaks - a chance for them to stretch out their legs and arms in a constructive fashion. 


35 minutes

“The book for today is called Why Do Leaves Change Color? This book is written by Betsy Maestro and illustrated by Loretta Krupinski. The first thing I noticed on the front of this book is what?”

“That’s right – children jumping in the leaves. We just talked about that yesterday how we see many of our fall books have children jumping in leaves. Can anyone tell me something they notice about the title of this book?”

“You right Christopher; the title is an asking sentence. What is the word we use to name an asking sentence?”

“Good work Emily; it is a question. What were the two clues which helped us know the title was a question?”

Yes Adam it does have a question mark. That is one clue the title is a question. What is the other clue?”

“Well done Sarah the word “why” helps us recognize it is a question. We are going to go ahead and read the book now to see if we can find out the answer to the question, “Why do leaves change color?””


During reading we discuss any unknown vocabulary words. Words like; absorb, chlorophyll, barely, dormant, etc. On page 24 I like to ask the students to recall the scientific word for “rot” which we learned in our Pumpkin Unit. I highly encourage the students to use the correct scientific word whenever they can.


After I have finished reading the book with the students I tell them that they are now going to draw and fill in the leaves in their own little book called Fall Leaves. I explain that they will need to read and recognize the color word at the bottom of each page in order to correctly illustrate their book.

I ask the students what resources they could use around the classroom if they do not know the color word at the bottom of the page.

“If I do not recognize the color word at the bottom of the page, what resources could I use to help me?”

“That’s right Ashley; I could use the color word chart on the wall under the clock. Well done Rachel; I could use the color words on the Sight Word Wall. Adam says I could use my nametag from the table as it has the color words along the bottom. Finnley says I could use a color book from book area and Michael says I could even ask a friend. Those are all good resources to use.”

“When you get to this work station you will find a copy of the little book, crayons, pencils, and some leaf stencils. You can use the stencils to help you draw a leaf by tracing around them, or you may want to draw your own scientific leaf. Either way is fine with me.” Tracing the stencil

Because of copyright issues I am unable to scan the master of the book I use in my classroom. I did find another book online at the Enchanted Learning website. You could have the students use the leaf stencils to create their own leaves on the blank page next to the already drawn leaf. Or you could have a tree leaf guide book and allow the students to try and match the leaves drawn in the book. The students may even like to try and write the leaf name as they find them in the book. 


Students need to be proficient at recognizing their color words as this skill enables them to read more fluently. The more words I can recognize with automaticity then the less time I spend trying to decode unknown words while I read.


Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one go have some leaf color fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity. I remind the students to keep an eye on the visual timer so they will use their time wisely. Student working on leaf color words  book    Coloring the leaf the correct color    Coloring the leaf the correct color (2)


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time. Student work sample discussion    Student sample leaf color words

When all of the students are seated on their dots I play this short video clip to reinforce the lessons we have been introduced to today.

After the video snippet has ended I use the fair sticks to select students to read the color word card that I hold up. If a student does not recognize the color word, he/she can do one of two things.

  1. Get a friend to help, or
  2. Wait until the end and then we will work on the color word together.

Once a student has recognized and read the color word they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. 

Watching this short video clip helps to reinforce the information the students heard during our shared reading experience earlier. I like to use different formats of information presentation in my teaching methods because it helps me to meet the many different learning styles of my classroom students. 


5 minutes

Call each student over during a time which fits into your classroom schedule. I call my students over to work with me during free choice centers time or at integrated work station time (only if I have enough parent volunteers and I am not working a station myself).

Direct the student’s attention to the color words on the paper. Use your own finger to show the student where to start and model how to use a tracking finger to go across the page just as if you were reading. “Starting here under the star please use a tracking finger to read across the page and tell me what the color word says. Place your finger under the first word by the star. Ready? Begin.”

Record the student’s responses on the recording sheet.  


Have some plain white paper leaf cutouts. Students select warm colors from the crayon pile to color their leaves and then use them to make a pattern on a long strip of paper.


Have a variety of leaves for the students to make crayon rubbings of. Point out the parts of the leaf and have students label the obvious parts mentioned in the book – veins, stem.