Family Activity: Bursting Buds

Bursting Leaf BudsIn early spring, the tiny, bright green leaves of many trees burst forth.

Where do the leaves come from? How do they form?

In this activity, children will find the answers to these questions through observation and research.

Doing the Activity

The Spring is a wonderful time to go outside.

When you are next out on a walk, take a moment to draw attention to tree twigs and branches.

Have children search for buds and then choose a single twig to study. Have them:

  • Hold the branch for examination
  • Point out the different features they can see
  • Gently split open a bud and examine the leaves tucked inside

Explain that tree twigs have different identifiable parts.

Children could use a digital camera or sketchbook to record what they see.

Back indoors, have children draw a picture of their twig and then use the internet or a tree identification guide to label the different parts.

Finally, ask children how they think buds change into leaves.

One week later, go outside again to the same tree so children can see the change.


Bud Growth


  • By the time a tree’s leaves drop in the fall, its leaves for the next spring are already formed.
  • Tiny leaves, stems, and sometimes flowers are located in packages called buds.
  • Buds are made of tough scales that form a waterproof case.
  • In spring, sap rises from the roots to the branches; the scales fall off the buds; and the tree’s leaves, stems, and flowers unfurl and grow.
  • During the summer, the tree begins to develop new buds for the following year. 



  • How Leaves Change by Sylvia A. Johnson, ISBN: 0822595133.
    A children’s science book about the structure and purpose of leaves.


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This family activity is adapted from Project Learning Tree’s PreK-8 Environmental Education Activity Guide which can be obtained through an in-person professional development workshop or online course.

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