While we may not be able to linger in, gather or play in our much-loved parks or green spaces right now, trees in our backyards, along our streets, in the parks we walk through, or even those seen from our windows or balconies still offer opportunities for families to interact with our steadfast friends outside.
Trees are a natural teacher and they can show us how we are connected to our natural world.
So while we may have to stay close to home, these easy activities let everyone in the family become a student and the trees become the teacher!
The Young Explorer (ages 5-7)
Roots, trunk, branches, leaves
Visit the tree in your backyard, on your street near your house, or one you can see from your window. Examine it carefully with your parents. Look at the trunk, branches, and leaves or needles. What do you notice about each part of the tree?
Roots: Look around the tree for any roots and follow them out from the tree. How far do they go? How might the tree use the roots to drink water? How might the roots keep the tree straight and tall by gripping the soil?
Trunk: Look carefully at the size of the trunk and compare it to the branches. How might the trunk take water to all the branches? Imagine hugging the tree. How many of you do you think it would take to go around the tree?
Branches: Look at the branches spreading out to the light. How might the branches take water to the leaves? Explain that the branches take water to the leaves. How are the branches different or similar to the roots? Compare the branches to the roots.
Leaves: Look at the leaves or buds. How might the leaves make food for the tree? Explain that leaves make food for the whole tree, using the sun’s energy with the help of water, air and soil. Examine a leaf closely. Compare it to a factory which makes food.
The Young Researcher (ages 8-10)
A Special Tree
Materials needed: notepad, pencil and camera.
Ask your parents to take you to the tree in your backyard, on your street near your house, or to one you can see from your window. Choose a tree to explore and determine why it might be a suitable home for various species of animals.
Examine your tree: Ask everyone to analyze their tree, look at it from all sides and look up into the canopy of your tree. Look at the pattern of the branches, the amount of light that shines through, the texture of the bark, and any flowers or fruit on the tree. Are there any signs of animals in the tree? Holes? Nests? Noises?
Ask everyone to stand a little distance away from the tree and sketch the tree. Don’t overthink this, it should be a quick sketch that you can do while standing. Everyone takes a turn. Check out the examples from our family.
Here are the drawings from my family:
The Young Decision Maker (ages 11-16)
Personify and Protect
Learn about your provincial or territorial symbolic tree (species) and what you can do to protect the trees in your area. Using the fact sheet questionnaire (PDF), research your selected tree species to develop a profile.
Try to locate your species somewhere in your neighborhood, on your street or from your window. Take a picture or draw the different components of the tree: bark, leaves, branches, flowers, seeds, etc.
Prepare and create a video to present your tree and submit your video or photograph to be part of our virtual forest. Comment on what you saw in your observations, whether the tree is in good shape, how old it might be, why it was planted where it is or if it is being properly maintained.