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

Pre 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!

Pre Camp Kawartha

Me as a Tree Art Activity

  • Provide your children with space and materials to draw themselves as a tree.
  • If wanted you can ask them to respond to a specific question (ex: include something you are proud of), or just leave it free.
  • This provides the space for the children to identify with certain characteristics that trees may also bring to this earth

Poem read out louds 

  1. Bring your students outside to read and discuss poetry
  2. Divide the class into six groups (two groups per poem)
  3. Each group gets a copy or two of the poem.
  4. Ask students to read through the poem to the best of their abilities. Highlighting words that they do not understand. As the teacher make your way between the groups. 
  5. The goal of this activity is to have the students present their poem to the class. This could be done by reading the poem aloud, thinking about some of the following questions:
  • What do students notice from this poem? What words do they not understand? What do you think the writer is trying to say? Do they relate to any of the lines? Do they recognise any of the trees mentioned in the poem? Do they like the poem? If not, why?

When I am among the trees by Mary Oliver (2006)

When I am among the trees, 

especially the willows and the honey locust, 

equally the beech, the oaks and the pines, 

they give off such hints of gladness. 

I would almost say that they save me, and daily. 

I am so distant from the hope of myself, 

in which I have goodness, and discernment, 

and never hurry through the world 

but walk slowly, and bow often. 

Around me the trees stir in their leaves 

and call out, ”Stay awhile.” 

The light flows from their branches. 

And they call again, ”It’s simple,” they say, 

”and you too have come 

into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled 

with light, and to shine.



Poplar trees are laughing trees, 

With lilting silver call. 

Willow trees droop weepingly 

And never laugh at all. 

Maple trees are gorgeous trees 

In crimson silks and gold; 

Pine trees are but sober trees, 

Aloof and very old. 

Black-oak trees walk sturdily, 

And live oaks eager run; 

The sycamores stand lazily 

Beneath the summer sun. 

But poplar trees are laughing trees 

Wherever they may grow — 

The poplar trees are happiest 

Of all the trees I know.

The Sound of Trees 

By Robert Frost 

I wonder about the trees.

Why do we wish to bear

Forever the noise of these

More than another noise

So close to our dwelling place?

We suffer them by the day

Till we lose all measure of pace,

And fixity in our joys,

And acquire a listening air.

They are that that talks of going

But never gets away;

And that talks no less for knowing,

As it grows wiser and older,

That now it means to stay.

My feet tug at the floor

And my head sways to my shoulder

Sometimes when I watch trees sway,

From the window or the door.

I shall set forth for somewhere,

I shall make the reckless choice

Some day when they are in voice

And tossing so as to scare

The white clouds over them on.

I shall have less to say,

But I shall be gone.

My friend

  • Take your children to an outdoor space (ideally with many trees) that is and will continue to be easily accessible to you.
  • Have your children tour around the area and choose a tree that speaks to them. Some trees could be chosen by more than one person, but this will be an individual project.
  • On this first visit, allow your students the time to familiarize themselves with their tree.
  • After the visit to Camp Kawartha you can revisit their trees and identify if they are coniferous trees and/or deciduous trees.
  • From this point the extensions are endless. You can do math (ex: collect basic data on their class’ trees), art (ex: sketches), science (ex: species, environment, climate, and animal identification and community), language (ex: poem and creative writing, or a book study), music (ex: sound mapping), and many other options all relating to their trees.
  • The idea is that the students will continue to build a relationship with their tree. 

Invent a Forest Creature Activities (From Forests Ontario Teacher’s Toolbox: A Forest Education Guide) 

Activity #1 

Step 1 – In preparation for the activity on inventing a forest creature (Activity #2), ask your class what plants and animals need to live and grow in a forest environment. Brainstorm a list of requirements or have students create their own methods for finding the answers (with partners or on their own). Encourage them to ask such questions as: 

  • How do plants and animals depend on each other? 
  • What are some of the webs or chains of relationships that exist in the forest? 
  • How could we demonstrate some of these relationships (e.g. using word models comparing the relationships in a forest community or ecosystems to their own neighbourhood community; painting a food web on a flat board and connecting the elements in the web using nails and string; reports; drawings; computer-generated flow charts)? 

Step 2 – Assist your students in conducting their chosen activity that demonstrates the interrelationships in a forest community

Activity #2 

Step 1 – Divide your class into small groups. Assign each group the task of inventing a new animal or plant that is able to live somewhere in a forest. To begin, suggest that they ask questions such as: 

  • What does the animal or plant look like? 
  • What are the climatic and environmental conditions where it lives? 
  • What does it eat and what are its enemies? 

Step 2 – Have students record the specific features of their creature and its immediate environment. For example, they could describe: 

  • The general forest environment (climate, animals, other plants); 
  • The habitat and niche of their creature; 
  • A description of physical characteristics that help it survive (e.g. beaks of birds and claws of tree dwellers); 
  • A description of behavior that helps it survive (e.g. hibernation, feeding habits); 
  • How it reproduces and how it interacts with other species. 

Step 3 – Another way of describing their creature is according to its ecological niche. The ecological niche of an organism has to do with its function or role, or way of life (e.g. as “predator” – and organism that hunts, kills, and eats of animals; or “decomposer” – animals, plants and bacteria that chemically break down dead organisms, releasing important materials for use by other living things) – and how it performs that function. Habitat is relatively static; “niche” is a dynamic condition referring to the activity relationships of a living thing to its environment. Have students describe their creatures according to the following elements that determine their ecological niche: 

  • The role played by the organism in its biological community (e.g. predator, decomposer); 
  • Its food requirements; 
  • Its position in the food chain; 
  • Its requirements for shelter; 
  • Its behaviour; 
  • The timing of its activities (e.g. nocturnal or diurnal).

Step 4 – Have your students find creative ways of introducing their creatures to the rest of the class. They could use drawings, simulations of its sounds, simulated scientific reports on its environmental needs, or role-playing (e.g. interviews with naturalists familiar with the organism). They could even design and wear a costume of their creature and have a classmate interview them. 

Step 5 – Have students draw a diagram or cartoon strip or write a story that illustrates the interrelationships that exist between their creature and the rest of the forest community. If appropriate, make connections with the hypothetical creatures invented by other groups. Extensions Ask your students to predict the impact of a particular change in their creature’s environment (e.g. the effect of a drought on a water lily). Have them use any method they wish to express the change and its effect – role-playing, illustrations, interviews. How much change do they think their creatures could adapt to? Have the class develop a realistic food web for a local forest area or park

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

Step 1 – Plan a trip to an area that has a number of stumps or decaying logs. With careful supervision, have your students search the area for tree stumps and shout ‘stump’, when they find one. Gather around the stump and explore it. Ask questions such as: 

  • What does it feel like? 
  • Is it soft in some spots? Why? 
  • What plants are growing on the tree stump? How many? 
  • Why do you think the tree became a stump? Was it fire, insects, cutting or disease? • What signs show this? 
  • What can you do with and old/new tree stump? 

Step 2 – Explore the stump to locate rot. Dig out a handful of the wood rot and compare it with a handful of soil for weight, appearance, texture, and smell. Have your students use the palms of their hands to grind down the wood rot to make soil. Discuss the importance of this process occurring in nature (i.e. as wood rots it returns valuable nutrients to the soil). 

Step 3 – Have your students use magnifying glasses to observe activity on or near the stump. Describe any animals present. What are they doing? 

Step 4 – Have your students hold hands and form a small ring around the stump. Have them observe plants, fungi, mosses, and types of bushes within their circle. With the same number of students, form a similar-sized circle beside the stump. Observe the ground plants within that ring. Repeat again further away from the stump. Compare plants and fungi on the forest floor with those located near or on the stump. Do the same types of plants, fungi, and mosses grow on tree stumps as on the forest floor?

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