To learn more about our environment, start local! Can you identify any trees in your neighborhood? Can your children? In this exercise, kids will do a little research about local trees, and make an identification guide of the trees they find. You might be surprised how quickly kids can learn to identify trees by their leaves, seeds, bark, and overall shape!
To start off, check your local library for local field guides of trees that grow in your state (or area). Often times they have pictures and descriptions of trees and their leaves and seeds. You will use these books after your investigating.
Walking around your neighborhood, have the kids collect leaves and seeds from the trees. We did some bark rubbings, and taped a leaf on each page. Ask the kids:
- What is the shape of the tree?
- How does the texture of the bark feel?
- Does the tree have flowers, fruits, or nuts?
- Can you see any creatures using the trees for food or shelter?
Collect the pages and assemble them to make a specific tree guide for your own neighborhood. The field guides could include the name of each tree, a drawing, a bark rubbing, a leaf from the tree (or leaf rubbing), any information about the tree, and details of where in the neighborhood each kind of tree can be found. This can be adjusted depending on the child’s age and ability.
When you get back home, use your tree identification guides to identify the trees that you found on your hike.
Have the kids label their pages with the proper names, and create a cover for their tree guide. Next time you take a walk, bring your tree guide with you and try to identify the trees you see!
Make a neighborhood tree guide and teach your kids to identify common trees, native to their local community. Get outside and learn about your own environment!
Check this list of national trees around the world to find your National Tree.
If you are in the United States, see this list to find your state tree.