A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that nature-enthusiast kids can take a photo of a leaf, and Leafsnap will help them identify the tree by using visual recognition software. There are also games to sharpen kids' tree-identification skills. This free app will catalog your leaf photos so you can build your own reference along with the extensive list already on the app. The app provides similar matches to the photo of the leaf in question, but it's up to the user to make the final call on what looks like the closest match. This is the first in a series of app field guides being created by Columbia University, University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution. There's also an iPad-only version called Leafsnap For iPad.
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What's it about?
Nature-loving kids can use Leafsnap to help identify trees. Kids pick a leaf, lay it on a sheet of white paper, and snap an image with their device. When a list of similar-looking leaves appears on the side of the screen, kids compare details to choose a match -- some of which appear much more likely than others. Kids then choose their match and read more detailed information about the tree, save the image to their own catalog, and keep building their online leaf collection.
Is it any good?
This isn't a perfect leaf ID'ing tool, but LEAFSNAP can definitely help kids become more familiar with leaves and trees. And the catalog and games are solidly educational with beautiful photos. If you're taking your phone out on a hike to use this app as a field guide, be prepared to bring a white sheet of paper or something with you because you have to take the photos of leaves you want to identify on a white background. Currently, this app focuses on areas in the Eastern United States, but it promises to include leaves from the entire continental U.S. soon.
Talk to your kids about ...
Walk a local park with your kid, choosing leaves of trees to snap for the app. Don't forget to bring a white sheet of paper for photo background.
Start a leaf collection the old fashioned way, taping leaves on paper and labeling them with the info you find on this app, as well as tactile info such as smell and feel of the leaves.
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
- Subjects: Science: plants
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, applying information, hypothesis-testing
Tech Skills: using and applying technology
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free
- Release date: June 5, 2015
- Category: Education
- Size: 87.90 MB
- Publisher: Columbia University, University of Maryland, and Smithsonian Institution
- Version: 1.07
- Minimum software requirements: Requires iOS 5.1.1 or later.
- Last updated: November 11, 2020