Tree species can be identified by looking at several different features: leaves, bark, twigs, flowers, fruit, and seeds. Even the overall shape of a tree can give clues to the tree’s identity. In this activity, your students will learn more about trees through these identifying features. Afterward, they can play an active game that tests their knowledge of different types of trees.
This is one of 96 activities that can be found in PLT’s PreK-8 Environmental Education Activity Guide. To get the activity, attend a training either in person or online and receive PLT’s PreK-8 Guide. Below are some supporting resources for this activity.
Every month we carefully select new tools and resources that enhance PLT’s lessons. These include educational apps, videos, posters, interactive websites, careers information, and teacher-generated materials. Browse a chronological listing below:
Video Demo: Name That Tree
Watch the Name that Tree Demonstration video (5 minutes). In PLT’s Names that Tree, students will learn more about trees through these identifying features. This video was developed by Kirsten Brazier, a PLT Facilitator in Florida.
BeLEAF it or Not: How to Identify Trees
Learn about tree Identification in this “BeLEAF it or Not” video How To Identify Trees. Michigan foresters, Bill Cook and Georgia Peterson, explain some identification characteristics of trees, such as bark, buds, fruits, and leaves. They also explain the Latin/two-part scientific names for living things that allow people throughout the world to communicate unambiguously about species. Intended for students in grades four through seven, the episode has an accompanying resource page.
The FreshAiR App
Download the FreshAiR app to explore the world around you with augmented reality. FreshAiR™ is a location-based storytelling and gaming app that reveals hidden stories about the areas around you as you drive, walk or play! In Hidden History, discover amazing stories as you drive down the interstate. Or use Search To Survive, an interactive mobile game to see if you can survive in 1607 Jamestown. The app couples hands-on outdoor learning with educational content about the location you are investigating such as a National or local park. You can also challenge students to create their own Reality to share with others. For example, create a tour of your local park or playground by adding images, text, or videos and use an in-app assessment tool to help assess your students’ learning.
Fruit Tree 101 Program
The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation’s Fruit Tree 101 program brings high-quality fruit trees and shrubs, equipment, on-site orchard design expertise and oversight, horticultural workshops, and aftercare training and manuals to schoolyards across the country. By planting fruit trees, students will improve the surrounding air, soil, and water and provide a local source of healthy nutrition. There is no deadline to apply; applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Recipients must be public schools, nonprofits, or government entities that own the planting site, showcase commitment to caring for the trees in perpetuity, have a source of irrigation nearby, and can help coordinate local volunteers to participate on the day of planting.
Desmos Graphing Calculator
Desmos creates digital math tools, such as this online graphing calculator that students can use for free. They also create activities and their Activity Builder helps teachers create digital math activities. The online calculator has many uses in science and math settings, from graphing functions, plotting tables of data, and evaluating equations, to exploring transformations and more. It is also available as a smartphone app. Read the Desmos blog for tips and ideas for using the calculator in the classroom.
Go Plant a Tree!
In this short video from PBS Plum Landing, see how students work with a local arborist to plant a tree in their community. Underneath the video, you’ll find some simple conversation starting questions and additional resources to inspire your students.
Tree Identification Guides
PLT staff like and use these Tree ID guides:
Leafsnap is a free app that can be downloaded onto the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad (Andriod version in development). Leafsnap uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from individual leaf photographs you take in the field. This application contains high-resolution images of bark, flowers, fruit, seeds, and more. Currently Leafsnap specializes in tree species found in the Northeastern United States, but expansion to include all US regions is underway.
A free app that can be downloaded onto Apple devices (SmartMeasure for Android). EasyMeasure uses the height of the camera lens and its tilt angle to calculate the distance to objects of your choice. Simply aim your mobile device at any object, and this app displays the distance towards that object on top of the camera image. Upgrades can be used to also calculate object height.
Dr. Don Leopold, State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry professor, has identified a total of 135 tree species on You-Tube. These 2-minute, high definition videos briefly summarize how to identify each tree species, its ecological characteristics and importance, and communicate fun facts. While the list of native and non-native tree species is familiar to Northeastern landscapes, many western U.S. tree species are also covered. These vignettes are also all available for free on i-Tunes.