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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Make a leaf spotting wheel

See if you can recognise trees by their leaves in this outdoor hunt.

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You’ll need

  • Pens or pencils
  • Paper plates
  • Rulers
  • Pegs

Love trees?

If you want to take your love of trees further, why not check out our partnership with the Green Tree Badge. This will give you the opportunity to engage with trees in a new way and earn external badges along the way!

Green Tree Badge

Before you begin

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Take a look at our guidance to help you carry out your risk assessment, including examples.  
  • Make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers. 

Planning and setting up this activity

  • Make sure the outdoor area you visit is accessible for everyone, choosing a suitable place for drop off and collection. You may need to think about avoiding steps or steep gradients or including frequent breaks. 
  • Check the forecast and sunset times, but be prepared for the weather to change. It’s best to run this activity on lighter evenings, such as in summer.
  • Make sure everyone knows where and when to meet, knows what to bring and comes dressed for the weather and the task. People should wear outdoor clothing and sturdy shoes. 
  • It might be a good idea to have some spare equipment, such as gardening gloves, for those who’d prefer not to get their hands too dirty. Make sure there’s somewhere everyone can wash their hands after the activity too.
  • Find a wood that has a variety of trees – try to make sure that there are at least some trees that are on the leaf spotter sheet.
  • Print enough copies of the Leaf hunt sheet, so that each group has one between them. Alternatively, find or make your own sheets, or use an app such as the Woodland Trust Tree ID app.

Make a leaf spotting wheel

  1. Gather everyone together and ask if anyone knows any tree species and what their leaves look like. 
  2. Ask everyone how they can tell leaves apart how they’d recognise this tree or leaf again without any help. They should look at the shapes, colours and textures of the leaves. People could also look at the veins and markings visible on the leaves. Some are single leaves, such as oak leaves, while some are multiple, such as rowan leaves too. Next, look at the tree that the leaf’s growing on. They could look at the seeds, the size, what the bark is like, or whether the tree is in the sun or the shade.
  3. Explain that you’ll be making a leaf spotting wheel to help people practice identifying different leaves.
  4. Give everyone a paper plate and ask people to divide into equal segments. You can use a ruler and pen to help divide it into four, eight or more segments. 
  5. Each person should then take a peg for each segment and peg it onto the plate.
  6. In each segment, people should write down the name of a leaf from the leaf spotting sheet. They’ll be looking for those leaves, then pegging them to the plate when they’ve found them.
  7. To make it easier, people could also colour each segment a different autumnal (such as orange, yellow and brown) or green colour, rather than writing the name of a leaf. They’ll be pegging a leaf of the same colour to the plate when they’ve found them.
A paper plate on a bench. It's been divided into eight segments and each one has a different tree type written in it, such as beech and oak. Each segment has a peg and three segments have leaves attached.

Find the leaves

  1. Meet at or head out to the outdoor space or meet at the chosen venue. Explain the boundaries of the playing area and where the no-go zones are. 
  2. Everyone should get into small groups, with at least two adults for each group. If playing in a public space, young people should be paired up so no young person is left alone and they should run or move together.
  3. When everyone’s ready, each group should explore the wood and try to spot all of the leaves or colour on their plate. Give each group a copy of the 'Leaf hunt' sheet, which will make it easier to spot the leaves.
  4. When they come across a leaf, the group need to identify it. Remind everyone not to pick any leaves, as the trees need them, but to pick them up off the ground.
  5. When a group finds a leaf that matches to one they’ve got on their plate, they should peg that leaf to the plate. 
  6. After a set time, or after one group finds all of their leaves, gather back together. People who are happy to could talk about and show others what they found. 

Play a quick leaf matching game

  1. Once a group has pegged all the leaves to the plate, gather everyone together and play a game.
  2. An adult should call out the name of a tree, such as oak, and everyone should move to stand by that type of tree.
  3. The adult should make sure they can see the tree they call, and everyone should remember not to move out of sight.
  4. Groups should keep playing, as their adult calls out different trees.
  5. If the group is struggling, they could give clues, for example, ‘an oak tree, the tree that also makes acorns’ or ‘a holly bush, that has prickly leaves that remind us of Christmas’.


This activity gives everyone the chance to try new things. Had anyone been to this woodland area before? Even if some people had visited before, this was probably a new way for them to explore. Which trees did people find? What else did people notice about the trees, as well as their leaves? Can anyone describe a tree, including its height, shape, and bark? Now everyone’s a tree detective, they’ll be able to use their new skill next time they visit somewhere with trees.

This activity was also a chance for everyone to value the outdoors. Woods can be exciting places to explore and play games, but they’re also a home for animals and insects (and they produce the oxygen we need to breathe). Some trees (deciduous trees) shed their leaves in autumn, the fallen leaves decompose and produce leaf litter that feeds new spring growth and is a home for animals and insects. How did the woods make everyone feel? Why is it important to look after woodland?


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Outdoor activities

You must have permission to use the location. Always check the weather forecast, and inform parents and carers of any change in venue.

Animals and insects

Be aware of the risks before interacting with animals. Be aware of anyone with allergies, and make alternative arrangements for them.

  • To make this activity easier, only use three or four common leaves.
  • To make this activity harder, add in more leaves or use more unique leaf species.

Make sure the area is accessible for everyone.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.