Lesson Plan: Teaching Phenology in Plants (Leaf-out) through Climate-related Examples

As a high school or undergraduate Biological Sciences teacher, you can use this set of computer-based tools to help you in teaching the phenology of plants, and phenological events in plants such as leaf-out.

This lesson plan allows students to understand phenology and phenological events in plants and animals. Further, the activities help students to determine the possible relationship between climate and phenological events such as leaf-out in plants. The exercises stimulate thinking about the possible impact of climate change on these periodic life-cycle events.

Thus, the use of this lesson plan allows you to integrate the teaching of a climate science topic with a core topic in the Biological Sciences.


Use this lesson plan to help your students find answers to:

  • 1. What is phenology?
  • 2. Name some phenological events in plants and animals.
  • 3. What are the climate-related factors that may affect leaf-out in plants?
  • 4. Which phenological events in plants could be affected by a change in the average spring temperature?

About Lesson Plan

Grade Level High School, Undergraduate
Discipline Biological Sciences
Topic(s) in Discipline • Phenology in Plants
• Phenological Events in Plants
• Life-cycle Events in Plants
• Leaf-out in Plants
Climate Topic Climate and the Biosphere
Location Global, USA
Languages English
Access Online, Offline
Approximate Time Required 100 – 110 min



(30 – 40 min)

A reading that introduces the topic of phenology, its significance, and the link between plant phenology and climate.

Go to Reading

Classroom/ Laboratory activity

(~60  min)

A classroom/laboratory activity to explore the possible role of climate-related environmental factors in the timing of leaf-out in plants (specifically, red maple leaf-out in New England).

Go to Reading

Here is a step-by-step guide to using this lesson plan in the classroom/laboratory. We have suggested these steps as a possible plan of action. You may customize the lesson plan according to your preferences and requirements.

1.Introduce the topic by using a reading
  • • Introduce the topic of phenology, its significance, and the link between plant phenology and climate by using the reading, “About Phenology” from Budburst, a project of Chicago Botanic Garden.
  • • The reading can be accessed at http://budburst.org/phenology-defined
  • • Discuss a few phenological events (periodic life-cycle events) in plants and animals.
2. Discuss using an online reading

Mapped Sustainable Development Goal(s), apart from 4 and 13

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