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Dormancy of Trees

In the fall every year in Iowa there is a pattern of the leaves turning colors and ultimately falling off of trees. This happens as trees enter a seasonal period of dormancy, which allows the tree to preserve energy during the winter. In a process similar to hibernation, the tree’s metabolism and energy consumption slows down. This internal process supports survival of the tree.

Waverly, Iowa

Driving Question

  • How do trees survive the winter?

Probing Question

  • Why do you think leaves change colors?
  • What do you think makes leaves fall off of trees?
  • Why do you think some trees turn colors sooner than others?
  • What do you think happens to trees during the winter?

Classroom Suggestions

Students could:

  • Go outside and find different colored leaves to compare and observe.
  • Find different types of leaves and find which tree they belong to based on observations.  
  • Go outside and pick leaves that they like and put the leaves under a piece of paper. They will rub crayons on the paper to get the details of the leaves and see the chlorophyll from the leaves.
  • Go outside and compare how the trees are now to pictures of how they were during the spring or summer months. They can talk about the main differences between the trees from different seasons. 

Relevant Related Resources

Iowa Core Alignment


Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction

Credit Info

Phenomena Submitted by Hunter Gerhardt

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