All students, no matter how young, have an idea of what a tree looks like. But many are unfamiliar with the actual structure of a tree. In this activity, your students will go outdoors or view pictures to take a closer look at trees and their parts.
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:
Remote Ready Student Pages
Google Slides and Docs are great tools for facilitating remote learning and student collaboration. They can be integrated into Google Classroom or other e-learning platforms. Check The Closer You Look for our remote-ready educator instructions and student pages.
Please note: Resources are available as view only and require that you make a copy to your own Drive in order to edit and share with your students. To learn how, watch this demo.
Video demo: The Closer You Look
Watch The Closer You Look Demonstration video (11 minutes). PLT’s The Closer You Look helps students learn about trees and tree parts. This video was developed by Danielle Ardrey, Colorado PLT Coordinator, this step-by-step instructional video offers guiding questions and examples of tree drawings.
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.
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.
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.
Inner Parts of A Tree Model
Help students visualize the inner layers of a tree trunk and better understand the function of its different parts by creating this easy-to-make visual aid – a cross-section of a tree trunk.
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.
Leafsnap is a free app that can be downloaded onto Apple and Android devices. 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.
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 YouTube. 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.
Functions of Forest Soil
This informational handout, made available by Montana State University Extension Forestry, describes forest soil profiles, functions, and the effects that natural and manmade impacts can have on overall forest health.
A free app that can be downloaded onto Apple and Android devices. AllTrails helps users to get out and discover the outdoors. Use it to plan a national park visit, find a hiking path near home, or map a new trail of your own! AllTrails can help you find local places to run, hike, bike, fish, and more in the outdoors. You can even upload photos and images to trails you create.
Life: Magnified was an exhibit of scientific images showing cells and other scenes of life magnified by as much as 50,000 times. The exhibit was on display at Washington Dulles International Airport’s Gateway Gallery from June 2014 through January 2015. The supporting Life: Magnified website features high-resolution version of all 46 images in the collection along with longer captions than in the airport exhibit. In this online gallery, you’ll see cells from all around the body–brain, blood, eyed, skin, liver, muscle. Each type of cell teaches different lessons about how life works.
Using Scratch, educators of all ages and levels can program interactive stories, games, and animations and share their creations in an online community. Click on For Educators to access tips and resources for using Scratch in the classroom, including an introductory video, how-to tutorials, and a webinar. Teachers can also join the ScratchEd community to connect and collaborate with other educators using Scratch.
Epic! For Educators
Are you looking for new literature connections to support your favorite PLT lessons? This growing Epic! online library offers thousands of picture books, chapter books, early readers, and even nonfiction books (think Common Core Connections!) that elementary teachers can access free of cost. Registered users receive unlimited access to books and customized recommendations for readers’ age levels and interests. Epic! is available for iPads, iPhones, and Android devices.