Center Focus

Leaf Estimation

  1. Your students will need to go outside for this center. They will need to find a "leafy" tree (no pines) in the schoolyard. A suitable tree will have branches low to ground where individual leaves can be counted. If this is not available, wait for your school gardener to do the regular trimming and ask him/her to save a branch for your class.
  2. Pose the following question to your students: How many leaves does the tree have? (approximately)
  3. In center groups, let students work together to figure out this problem. They need to come up with a plan of action for this one and need to consult you if they are stuck. Try to steer them toward the tool of estimation.
  4. Make sure the group assigns a Recorder to explain the different steps involved in their planned procedure.
  5. After all of the groups have been to this center, compare results. Discuss methods used and what estimation methods are best.
  6. The base method for estimating the number of leaves is to count the number of leaves on a typical branch, count the total number of branches (or estimate) and then multiply. This will give a very rough estimate. Older students should take into consideration the different lengths of branches and the "tapering" effect of the length as the tree's height increases.