Resources for PreK-8 Activity 77 – Trees in Trouble

Like humans, trees can become weak and unhealthy, suffer injury, and die. People have learned to read the symptoms of unhealthy trees to help them. In this activity, students will examine trees for signs of damage or poor health. They will also conduct a series of experiments to determine the conditions that may cause plants to become unhealthy.

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. 


Download the copyright-free student pages that are included with this activity:

Tree-tective Trouble Guide (PDF)

Reading Leaf Symptoms (PDF)

French: Guide des problèmes d’arbres en danger (PDF)

French: Lecture de Symptômes de Feuilles (PDF)


Spanish Student Page(s):

Leyendo los Sintomas de las Hojas (PDF)

Guia de Problemas para los Arbodetectives (PDF)


Expand your students’ learning and imaginations. Help students meet their reading goals, while building upon concepts learned in this activity, with the following children’s book recommendations:


Try a simple variation of this activity to engage children in the outdoors at home. Download this fun and easy-to-do family activity.


The following tools and resources may be used to enhance the activity.

  • Why Cities Need Trees

    Why Cities Need Trees is a 5:26-minute video that illustrates how trees are an essential part of successful cities. It tells the tale of two ancient cities and the trees that determined their destinies, and the importance of trees in modern-day cities–from helping to protect a city’s infrastructure to improving the health of its residents.

    Resource for Discover Your Urban Forest and Explore Your Environment activities: Trees in Trouble (Grades 3–5) and Forest in the City (Grades 6-8)

  • 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.

  • STEM Teaching Tools

    The University of Washington’s Institute of Science and Math created Practice Briefs.  These free articles highlight ways of working on specific issues that come up during STEM teaching. These briefs helps K-12 educators and administrators stay informed on teaching STEM issues, including STEM issues relating to teaching NGSS and implementing meaningful STEM learning. Each brief is separated into digestible sections and includes recommended actions for educators.

  • Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down?

    Help learners understand why it is sometimes necessary to cut trees in order to get wood, protect other trees, or reduce tree hazards. The book Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down? is geared for students in grades 1–3 and also provides tips for planting a new tree.

  • The Hopeful Story of American Chestnut Recovery

    This video blog post from Go Wood presents a clear summary of what happened to the American Chestnut (Castanea dentata), what is being done in the scientific realm to make a recovery of the species possible, and how you can help bring the American Chestnut back to the American forest. Go Wood seeks to educate people on the value of wood in society and is supported by professors at Penn State University Extension.

  • SoilWeb

    A free app that can be downloaded onto Apple and Android devices. A more technical application, SoilWeb allows users to access GPS based, real-time USDA-NRCS soil survey data. Using your geographic location, this app retrieves soil type summaries, including soil series names and image profiles.

  • Easy Chart

    A free app that can be downloaded onto Apple devices. This is a good tool for teachers and classrooms. Easily create bar, line and pie charts that you can customize, save and e-mail or upload. The charts you create can be saved using multiple color schemes and in multiple sizes. The app also works without an internet connection.