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Post Camp Kawartha “Treeific: A Program about Plants and Trees” Visit

Post Camp Kawartha “Treeific: A Program about Plants and Trees” Visit

Treeific: A Program about Plants and Trees

They provide an elegant and beautiful backdrop to our daily lives but few people stop and consider plants: the only living organism that can manufacture their own food and supply the world with oxygen. In this introduction to the world of plants, your students will learn about the various parts and functions of a tree in a tree drama exercise, identify coniferous trees and deciduous trees and discover which local plants are edible and many more activities. During the spring, students will have a chance to gather sap and help to make maple syrup at our sugar shack!

Post Camp Kawartha 

Activity (From Forests Ontario Teacher’s Toolbox: A Forest Education Guide) 

  • Ask your students to draw a tree. 
  • Have students share their drawings and observe whether the majority of the group included all parts of a tree or just what is visible above ground. 
  • Have a discussion with your students about the role of roots and root structure in impacting tree health. 

Tree Memory Activity (From Forests Ontario Teacher’s Toolbox: A Forest Education Guide) 

Construct a Tree Activity (From Forests Ontario Teacher’s Toolbox: A Forest Education Guide) 

Teacher Background 

To make Construct-A-Tree cards, write the name of the tree part on squares or rectangles cut from construction paper. If you wish, you may illustrate them with a quick sketch. Consider adding other tree parts (e.g. flowers, buds, cones, seed). For a class of 30, the following number of cards per tree part are required to construct a well-proportioned tree: Roots – 3 Trunk – 3 Branches – 4 Leaves – 20 


Step 1 –  Prepare the required number of Construct-A-Tree cards for your class and tape one to the back of each student. 

Step 2 – When all the cards have been taped on, have students ask each other questions that can be answered only by “yes”, “no” or “maybe” (e.g. Do I make food for the tree? Do I carry water up from the roots?). 

Step 3 – When they correctly guess the name of their tree part, have them stick their card on their front side. 

Step 4 – When all the tree parts have been identified, ask students to assume the role of their tree part and work together in three different groups to construct three different trees. What, if any, differences are there amongst the trees? 

Step 5 – Then challenge the group to work together to create one large, flat tree lying on the floor. Step 6 Photograph the students’ tree(s). Display the photo and have each student write a short description of his/her part in the experience.

Not All Plants are Created Equal Activities (From Forests Ontario Teacher’s Toolbox: A Forest Education Guide) 

Activity #1 

Step 1 – Choose two distinct outdoor areas containing a variety of trees and small, non-woody plants. Divide the class into pairs. Separate the partners, and send one to the first designated area, the other to the second area. 

Step 2 – Have each student choose one tree and one non-woody plant on the forest floor. Observe both closely. Ask them to show how the tree and plant are similar and how they are different. If done in springtime, take special note of any tree flowers that are in bloom. Compare any wild flowers found on the forest floor to the tree flowers. So they have similar parts? Record observations through sketches and/ or detailed written descriptions. 

Step 3 – Regroup and share observations. Make note of the similarities and differences between nonwoody plants and trees. Create a summary chart to show comparisons. 

Step 4 – Have partners switch areas. Using each other’s notes, see if they can locate the plants studied. Were any details missed that could have helped identify the chosen plants?

Step 5 – Regroup and discuss the question. Are trees plants? 

Activity #2 

Step 1 – Take your students to a woodlot or forest. Organize them into groups of three to five and give each group a 2m-piece of coloured yarn. Have them search for the tree with the roughest bark. When they’ve found this tree, have them tie their yarn around it. 

Step 2 – Have 10 different colours of yarn and repeat this step for each of the following tree characteristics: 

  • Tallest tree • Shortest tree • Tree with the lowest/highest branches • Most/least branches • Smoothest bark • Thickest trunk • Thinnest trunk • Biggest bump (burl) on the trunk • Straightest trunk 

Step 3 – When finished, regroup and take the whole class to examine the various trees with yarn. Have the class choose one tree out of each category that best represents the chosen characteristic. 

Activity #3 

  • Take your students on a bark walk. Ask them to find the tree with the most interesting bark. 
  • Then have them find the youngest tree and the oldest tree and examine the bark. Do the cracks in the bark run up and down or sideways? Are they long or short ridges? 
  • Record as many words as possible to describe the bark of each tree (texture, colour). 
  • Build a list of descriptive words and use the vocabulary to write poems (e.g. describing the tree with the most interesting bark or contrasting the old and young trees). 

Alternatively, try one of these other ways to investigate the characteristics of bark.

  • Bark rubbing quilt: Provide students with paper and crayons. Have them select a tree and make a rubbing of the bark. Either tape the rubbings together to form a paper quilt (use construction paper to form a border), or use them separately to decorate the classroom walls. 
  • Bark patterns on modeling clay: Rub bark with colourless candle wax. Press modeling clay into the bark for a few seconds, then carefully remove it. Mould the patterned clay into a small dish and let it dry for one week. 
    • Have another group take the bark patterns in clay and try to find the tree it came from. Name the tree species. 
  • Wax rubbings: Place heavy paper against the tree bark. Rub the paper with colourless candle wax. Put the paper on a flat surface and brush over the rubbing with poster paint to create a negative picture of the bark pattern. 
  • Discuss Nicknames and how they are used: Have each student give a tree a nickname reflecting the characteristics of the bark. 
    • Repeat this with several different trees. Some examples of nicknames might be: “elephant tree” (American beech), “cornflake tree” (black cherry) or “shaggy bark” (shagbark hickory). 

Extensions Back in the classroom, have students create tree awards (certificates, plaques ribbons) for each of the categories (e.g. Honorary Certificate Awarded to Smoothest Bark – American Beech or Gold Medal Awarded to Softest Needles – White Pine). Encourage students to generate their own lists of tree characteristics and use them as outlined in this activity. Notice which characteristics can be used to identify certain species. Write a story about one of the trees describing how it got its nickname.

Tree Tag Activity (as described in The Big Book of Nature Activities by Jacob Rodenburg and Drew Monkman, page 132 activity #33)

  • You’ll learn how to identify different tress.
  • You’ll need: A location with a variety of trees.
  • Go to an area with at least four different types of tree species. Show the children the distinguishing characteristics (ex: leaves, bark, shape, etc.) of the various trees. Designate a person as “it”. “It” shouts out the name of a tree, e.g. “White Pine!”, the children need to run and touch the branch or trunk of the correct species to be “saf”. Anyone tagged, or who runs to the wrong tree, becomes “it”. As variations the “it” child could shout out “coniferous/deciduous” or “opposite leaves / alternate leaves”!

Meet a Tree Activity (as described in The Big Book of Nature Activities by Jacob Rodenburg and Drew Monkman, page 158 activity #5)

  • In this game, children work in pairs. One child is blindfolded and led through a forested area by the other to a given tree. The blindfolded player explores the tree with his or her arms and hands and tries to get an idea of the diameter, the texture of the bark, whether it has lichens or not, holes or large roots, etc. The blindfolded child is then guided back to the starting point, taking a circuitous route, The blindfold is removed and the child has to find his or her tree!

We’re “Needling” You Activity (as described in The Big Book of Nature Activities by Jacob Rodenburg and Drew Monkman, page 181 activity #26)

  • You’ll learn: How to identify conifers by their needles and their silhouettes
  • Background: Knowing the common conifers adds to our enjoyment  of the holiday season and nature in general.Although the needles are your main clue, many species also have a distinctive silhouette that allows identification at a distance. 
  • Procedure: Attached are a list of needle characteristics of the main conifer families as well as some helpful memory aids or mnemonics to remember them.
  • Identification by shape:
    • White spruce: symmetrical, conical, wide, not pointed at the top
    • Balsam fir: narrow, symmetrical, tapered, pointed at the top. Resembles a church spire.
    • Douglas fir: pyramidal; unique cones with a protruding, tongue like, three-pointed bract.
    • Eastern white cedar: Dense, cone shaped branches often go right to the ground.
    • Western hemlock: irregular, horizontal branches; top often bent, drooping branchlets giving a graceful appearance.
    • White pine: often asymmetrical; branches at right angles to trunk, sometimes look like large wings.

Read a book outside! This link provides a list of some great books about trees.


Other Resources:

  • A forest education guide


  • Tree Bee is a tree identification tool used to engage classrooms, families and communities in learning more about the trees and forests in their own backyards.

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