Leaf Classification


Designed for lower elementary students, this hands-on botany material provides logical method for analyzing leaf characteristics. As they analyze leaves, students internalize scientific vocabulary and refine their deductive reasoning abilities. They’ll delight in recognizing the delicate differences between an ovate or obovate leaf form, training their focus and attention to detail.


I built this material using my Montessori training albums, Priscilla Spear’s Botany Album, and A Manual for Leaf Architecture. I think Priscilla’s album is better than my training album, but it is targeted towards Upper Elementary students. My hope was to make some intermediate materials that Lower Elementary students could use that would prepare them for advanced botany work.

You get:

  • Simple classification charts for
    • Leaf Shapes (elliptic, ovate, obovate, oblong, linear, orbicular)
    • Leaf Margins + Types of Toothed Margins
    • Leaf Venation
    • Leaf Attachment
    • Leaf Organization
    • Leaf Apex
    • Leaf Base
  • Cover image for charts
  • 40 photos of leaves. (They are not identified in any way)
  • Child-facing “Basic Leaf Description” form that you can print out and children fill out for leaves that they find.

There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them, in a real forest. Something emanates from those trees which speaks to the soul, something no book, no museum is capable of giving. –Maria Montessori

I have included 40 images of leaves are great in a pinch, when going outside to collect specimens isn’t logistically feasible. That being said, we always want to connect children to reality (especially for science!) and nothing can replace a real leaf.

  • Good: Use these images.
  • Better: Use the images from a field guide that shows native species to your area. Priscilla Spears from Big Picture Science also has fantastic leaf images that are properly identified. Find them here →
  • Best: Keep a variety of live plants in your classroom. And best of all go outside and collect real leaves! 

Follow up work ideas:

  • Classify these plants based on their characteristics
  • Make a booklet from the Basic Leaf Description forms.
  • Draw leaves, make rubbings, collect and preserve leaves.
  • Play the detective adjective game with these leaves
  • Create a large Venn Diagram with two categories such as lobed and toothed
  • Measure acute, obtuse, and reflex angles on the base and apex

Leaf Cards are 3″x4″, Classification charts are 8.5″ x 5.5″

Pages are designed to be printed double sided. The cut lines are on the back so the front stays crisp and clean. The back of these cards are labeled for sorting.


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