In this activity, students will discover that trees have a lifecycle that is similar to that of other living things. They will investigate a tree’s role in the ecosystem at each stage of its life.
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:
French: Cycles de Vie des Arbres
Spanish Student Page(s):
Ciclos de Vida de un Arbol
Engage students in real-world applications of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education.
Try these STEM Connections for this PLT activity:
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.
Video Demo: Tree Lifecycle
Watch the Tree Lifecycle Demonstration video (10 minutes). In PLT’s Tree Lifecycle students discover that trees have a lifecycle that is similar to that of other living things. This video was developed by Anita Smith, PLT Facilitator in Maine.
Tree Rings Simulation
The science of tree rings is called dendrochronology. Tree rings help scientists learn about past climates by decoding tree ring patterns. Climate scientists use clues from ice cores, layered sediment deposits in lakes and seas, the structure of coral reefs, as well as tree ring sequences to learn about paleoclimates. The use of tree ring records to decode Earth’s climate history is called dendroclimatology. Use this interactive Tree Rings Simulation by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Center for Science Education to learn what tree ring patterns can tell us about climate conditions in the past.
Are you looking for a fun and interactive way to teach your students about seeds? Why not have your students play the Seed Racers game? In this simple point and click style game, students learn about the types, features, and dispersal methods of many different kinds of seeds. Students work through multiple missions to collect seeds, all while learning about how seeds move from trees and other plants to new sites for germination and growth.
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.
Living with Wildlife: Snags
What is a snag? How do dead and dying trees benefit the ecosystem? Learn how dead trees can actually provide more habitats for wildlife than when they are alive with Snags—The Wildlife Tree, published by Washington state Department of Fish & Wildlife. The article highlights species that use snag trees to survive, what kinds of trees make the best snags, and how to create a snag tree for wildlife. For more species fact sheets and ways to attract wildlife to your yard, check out this Living with Wildlife series.
The Science of Fall Leaves
The US National Arboretum has collected online resources on the science of fall foliage. Resources include “The Science of Color in Autumn Leaves,” which describes how and why leaves change color; an extensive photo gallery of trees in fall color; and a list of “Selected Plants Providing Colorful Autumn Foliage.”
Discover the Forest
A program of the Ad Council and U.S. Forest Service, Discover the Forest offers resources that help families discover nearby forests and provides tips on how to prepare for and enjoy outdoor adventures.
A Forest Year
Check out this video, which captures 15 months of a forest’s life. This 3-minute time lapse video was created from 40,000 photographs. Photographer Samuel Orr took pictures out of the same window in his home to create this forest montage. This forest snapshot is just outside of Bloomington, Indiana and was photographed between 2006 and 2008.
Think Garden Video Series
This Think Garden video collection was produced by Kentucky Educational Television for elementary students as a teaching tool about growing food and all elements around food gardening. Consider using it to support PLT GreenWorks! or GreenSchools projects as we enter the growing season.
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.
IMOLD: The Interactive Model of Leaf Decomposition
This University of Toledo project intended for grades 9-12 teaches students about leaf litter decomposition and how it relates to the Earth’s carbon cycle and climate. Using interactive tools, the website allows students and teachers to create their own animated models that display tree leaf litter decomposition rates for species of their choice and compare them to other species and different environments.