Leaf Litter Critters Lesson Plan

Academic Standards


Reading Objective:

Children will examine how various animals get their needs met in leaf litter.


Science Focus:

seasonal changes, animal habitats


ELA Skills:

key details, vocabulary, text evidence, writing, text features


Page 4 Skill:

read a flowchart



leaf litter



RI.2.1 key details; RI.2.2 identify the main topic; RI.2.4 determine meanings of words; RI.2.5 use text features; RI.2.10 read informational texts; SL.2.1 collaborative conversations; SL.2.3 ask and answer questions


Guided Reading Level:



Lexile level:


Provide students with some background on autumn changes and leaves.

Build background knowledge (10 min.)

Watch our video "Leaves Through the Seasons.” After children have finished watching the video, discuss the following question:

  • What is one thing you learned about leaves?

Set a purpose for reading (5 min.)

  • Pass out the issue, and discuss the cover. Can students predict what animals do in the leaf litter?
  • Next, read the As You Read prompt on page 2: “Think about how animals can get all the things they need in the leaf litter.” Encourage children to think about this prompt as they read.

Read together (20 min.)

Pass out the Read and Think skill sheet. Use it to check comprehension as you read the issue together, pausing to ask the questions. 

Review vocabulary (3 min.)

Next, play the online vocabulary slideshow. This issue’s featured term is leaf litter.

Assessment: Reading Quiz 

Pass out the Reading Quiz to review key concepts from the issue and assess students’ proficiency on key nonfiction reading skills.

  • Students practice decoding key vocabulary words from this issue in the “Find the Word” game.

You can use our printable worksheets to focus on ELA skills. Here’s how.

ELA Focus: Vocabulary (15 min.)

  • Use the Word Work printable to deepen students’ understanding of the term leaf litter.

Editor’s Pick: Text Evidence/Writing (15 min.)

  • Use the A Letter to Norbert Know- It-All skill sheet for a fun way to teach text evidence. Read Norbert’s letter to kids. They will see that he is definitely NOT an expert! They can use what they learned in the issue to set him straight. Send Norbert a response at norbert@ scholastic.com. Norbert will write back!

ELA Focus: Text Features (15 min.)

  • Students will identify various parts of a nonfiction articles with the Text-Feature Hunt skill sheet.

 Here are two past issues you can use to extend your lesson on autumn leaves:

  • I Am a Leaf Peeper,” October 2019. Students will examine the tools that leaf peepers use to observe leaves.
  • Our Favorite Signs of Fall,” October 2021. This issue compares and contrasts autumn in two different communities.

You can find a higher-Lexile-level and a lower-Lexile-level version of the article online here:

  • Higher Lexile level: 640L
  • Lower Lexile level: 420L