Lesson Plans

Growing Up -
the Natural Science of a Tree

SEMESTER: This category has an early Fall and an early Spring component.
September is the recommended time of year to cover this section because of the leaf-collecting activity.
Early Spring following the final long spring break in order to water the seedling is the recommended time for the seed planting activity.


- Leaf or tree identification books
(click here to order).

The National Audobon Society
Field Guide to North American
Trees: Eastern Region

by Elbert L., Jr. Little, et al

DAY ONE (this may take 2 days) -


  • OUTDOOR ACTIVITY (could be done as homework or during class time)
    collect leaves.

    LEAF ID BOOK: (preparation required - have leaf identification books checked out from the library or purchased. Students can work in groups to use the books and help each other mount their leaves on paper and then label them).
    Create a leaf id book. Depending on supplies, either do a leaf rubbing with crayons on newsprint or other paper OR use clear contact paper to preserve leaves.
  • ALTERNATE ACTIVITY: Scavenger Hunt-
    Take the students outdoors. Together, everyone looks for the following items
    1. Tree with the largest girth (around the trunk)
    2. Tallest Tree
    3. Two or more different tree seeds (acorn, nut, an apple with seeds inside...)
    4. A mushroom on a tree.
    5. Smooth bark and rough bark.
    6. A tree smaller than the shortest student.
    7. Listen and count how many tree sounds you hear. (wind in leaves, footsteps in fallen leaves, ...)
    8. Find an Evergreen tree. Take a pine needle and pinch it between your fingernails. Smell it. What does it smell like?
    9. Count the number of different animal species that you notice in the trees.
    10. Find a bird nest in a tree.
    11. Count the logs that are big enough to sit on.
    12. Find some tree roots that you can see above the ground.
    13. Count how many different tree leaves there are in your school yard.
    14. See if there is a tree with white bark in your school yard (a birch tree).


  • (preparation/supplies required: cups, food coloring, celery stalks, knife for the instructor to cut the end off the stem.)
    Review the fact that water travels from the roots through the trunk to the leaves from the Charlie Chestnut site. This activity reinforces this concept
    CLASSROOM ACTIVITY "Up, Up and Away" celery experiment on page 41 of the downloadable curriculum guide.


  • (preparation/supplies required: order American Chestnut Seeds from The American Chestnut Foundation. Other tree species or any other plant seeds can be substituted for general teaching purposes in the case that you've missed the ordering deadline or their limited supply is out.
    CLASSROOM ACTIVITY: follow the planting guidelines in the kit. Keep a journal observing the stages of plant development.