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Monday Morning Ready09.08.2017
Jumpstart Your Week!

New England's fall foliage forecast is looking fine. It's enough to make a maple leaf blush. For the first time in several years, little has conspired against a truly glorious autumn. There's no more drought and the summer has been mild. The leaves were largely spared by gypsy moth caterpillars. The leaves look healthy. So a pretty great season for leaf peeping seems to be shaping up.... < read more >
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Grade 3-4

Why do you think people make such a fuss about the fall foliage display?

Grade 5-6

The article identifies several ways Mother Nature can prevent a spectacular fall foliage display. What are they?

Grade 7-8

In the article, foliage expert Jeff Folger calls leaves that display brilliant fall colors "happy leaves." Based on what you learned, why is this a fitting description?

Grade 9-10

Why do you think a forecast of fall leaf color in New England is important enough to become a national news story?

LESSON PLAN
Create a Fall Foliage Travel Itinerary

PROCESS:

  1. As a class, in small groups or with a partner, have students conduct research to identify a great place to view spectacular fall foliage. Tell students the location they select can be anywhere in the world. 
  2. Once students have picked a location, instruct them to calculate the distance between the foliage site and their hometown. Then have them figure out the best way to get there. For instance, should they take a plane, train or automobile? What route should they take? And what sites can they see along the way? 
  3. Have students conduct research so they can explain why the area they selected has such spectacular fall foliage and when is the best time to go there this year. 
  4. Encourage students to create a detailed travel itinerary for their trip. 

ASSESSMENT: 

Invite students to share their itineraries with the class. Encourage them to explain why they chose the site they did and why it is such a spectacular place to view fall foliage this year.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:

Grades 3-4:
Present the class with a few options for viewing spectacular fall foliage. Have students vote to select one site. Guide students as they calculate the distance between the site and their hometown. As a class, debate the advantages and disadvantages of different travel options. Select the one that students prefer the most. Then divide the class into small groups. Instruct each group to identify and learn about one site they could visit along the way. Have groups work together to create a detailed travel itinerary for the trip. 
Grades 5-6:
Divide the class into small groups. Instruct each group to select one site, calculate the distance to that site and figure out the best way to get there. Encourage groups to include at least three interesting places they could visit along the way. Challenge them to explain why the site they chose has such beautiful fall foliage.
Grades 7-8: 
Divide the class into pairs. Instruct each pair to select one site, calculate the distance to that site and figure out the best way to get there. Encourage partners to include at least four interesting places they could visit along the way. Challenge them to explain why the site they chose has such beautiful fall foliage.
Grades 9-10:
Divide the class into pairs. Instruct each pair to select one site, calculate the distance to that site and figure out the best way to get there. Encourage partners to include at least five interesting places they could visit along the way. Instruct students to identify specific conditions that caused the site they chose to have such beautiful fall foliage. Challenge them to also explain why the timeframe they selected is the optimal time to go there this year.
SMITHSONIAN RESOURCES
Smithsonian Learning Lab Collection: Autumn Artworks
This collection from the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access highlights beautiful artwork depicting the autumn and fall foliage.

Eight Places to See Amazing Fall Foliage Outside of New England
You don’t have to live in New England to see spectacular fall foliage. Read this Smithsonian article to learn about some off-the-beaten-path locations that also boast amazing autumn blazes.

Why Vermont is the Best Place for Fall Foliage
Take a journey over the fiery red foliage of fall and the covered bridges of Montgomery, Vermont in this video from the Smithsonian Channel.

Leaves, Diamonds, Birds & Roses: Design Patterns in Everyday Life
In this lesson from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, students observe patterns and symbols in everyday objects. Then they brainstorm ideas, collect and analyze data and construct graphs and graphic organizers about their observations.

Railroading in New England
This trip from Smithsonian Journeys is an excellent example of an autumn adventure itinerary. Participants experience New England’s breathtaking fall foliage, weathered mountains, rocky coastlines and charming towns while riding the region’s historic train lines during the height of autumn.

Leafsnap: An Electronic Field Guide
Would you like some help identifying some of the spectacular leaves you see this fall? Then check out Leafsnap, a series of electronic field guides being developed by researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution.

Heirloom Garden: What’s Blooming in Autumn?
Leaves aren’t the only plant part to undergo change during autumn. This is also the time of year when many flowers bloom. Use this bulletin from Smithsonian Gardens to introduce students to a few of the flowers that bloom in the Smithsonian’s Heirloom Garden during the autumn months. Challenge students to identify fall-blooming flowers near you!

Activity Collection: Botany Field Book
This teaching guide includes a lesson plan originally published as “Smithsonian in Your Classroom” that introduces students to the work of botanists and botanical illustrators. Following the methods of Smithsonian artists, students will try their own hands at botanical illustration.
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