Tree Identification

This series can be done year round, but it is best in the early Autumn and late Spring.

Students are divided into four groups to do this series.

Time frame for this series is approximately 2 1/2 hours .

Conceptual Framework: Observation, Plant Classification

Activity One: Tree Platform
Activity Two: Tree Factory
Activity Three: Looking at Leaves
Activity Four: Name That Tree

Tree Platform

  1. Docent will explain behavioral expectations and lead students onto tree platform.
  2. Docent will give students 5 minutes to look out from all the different views and try to find two trees that are alike.
  3. Docent will prompt students to describe how they know that the trees are alike (same species).
  4. Docent will have students describe the different ways to identify a tree.
  5. Docent will explain to students the common species visible from the tree platform and what the key characteristics of those trees are.

Tree Factory

  1. Docent will assemble students in a circle and let each student draw out a slip of paper with a part of a tree on it.
  2. Tell students they are going to portray the parts of a tree.
  3. Have the heartwood come to the center of the circle, and have him make the sound of a heartbeat.
  4. Have sapwoods join hands in a circle around the heartwood. Have them make slurping sounds.
  5. Have the roots lie down and extend from the tree and spread out their arms and make sucking noises.
  6. Have the leaves join the group and pretend to cook to illustrate making food.
  7. Have the phloem join hands in a circle around the tree. Have them reach and squat mimicking bringing food to the tree.
  8. Have cambium form between phloem and sapwood, swaying from side to side.
  9. Have bark form around the tree, facing outward.
  10. Ask students of the parts of the tree we imitated which ones are identifying characteristics. How can we tell one tree from the next?

Looking at Leaves

  1. Docent will give students 2 minutes to collect a few different types of fallen leaves.
  2. Have students make crayon rubbings of their leaves.
  3. Ask the students when they are finished:  What are the differences in the leaves? What are the similarities? Do any have teeth? Are any needle-like? What do they feel like? Who found the largest and smallest leaves?
  4. Have students pass their leaves to another student and have them try to figure out which tree they came from.
  5. Take students to several of the trees they collected leaves from and ask them: What pattern do the leaves grow in? Do they grow close together or far apart? How many needles per fascicle in evergreen leaves? What does the bark look like? What is the fruit like?Use a key or field book to help them identify the leaves they collected.

Name That Tree

  1. Docent will pass out identification sheets and clue sheets to each pair of students.
  2. Instruct students to look within certain boundaries for the trees on these sheets and write down the corresponding number by the name of the tree.
  3. Students will take 15 minutes to analyze the trees and try to identify them.
  4. Group will gather together and go to the trees one by one and talk about what each is and what the key characteristics are for that tree.
  5. Docent will have students tell what parts of a tree can be used in identifying it.