I remember wandering through the forest in my backyard gazing up at the trees and feeling small. Trees are powerful and provide ample opportunities for learning for kids. The life cycle of a tree is a lesson that ignites a child’s sense of wonder about the world and the desire to want to learn more.
My goal for this post is to present a lesson to you and to provide you with ample resources to equip yourself with knowledge and engaging activities for your kids.
Life Cycle of a Tree Lesson
- Start with this amazing book titled The Magic & Mystery of Trees. Kids love magic and mystery and this book will open their minds to start the conversation.
- Encourage the child to explore more deeply by asking them questions. See below for some conversation starters.
Questions to Ask Kids about Trees
- Are trees living or non-living?
- Do trees need water and food?
- How are trees born?
- Is it possible for a tree to get sick like us?
- Why are trees important to humans and the environment?
- Do trees die?
- How can humans help trees?
Continue the Lesson
- Show the kids this time lapse video of a seed growing into a pine tree. This video will surely open their eyes to the amazingness of nature.
- Use this Take-Along Guide on Trees, Bark, and Leaves. Then head out for a walk. It doesn’t have to be on a trail. You can simply walk around the neighborhood or the yard.
- On a day when the weather is nice, stop and take a break by doing yoga tree poses and encourage the kids to act out the life cycle of a tree with their bodies beginning with the seed.
- Try tree rubbing with newsprint paper and jumbo crayons. Simply masking tape the paper on the tree and use the crayons to create the rubbing. You will be amazed at the beauty of the various textures.
- Draw the life cycle of a tree
- Introduce the parts of the tree (see below for details) using a Montessori tree puzzle and botany activity set. Encourage the child to trace his own tree using tracing paper and colored pencils.
- Use Parts of the tree cards and booklets. Encourage your child to make his own cards and Tree Book.
Tree Facts for Kids
Kids love fun facts. As the learning progresses, let them know about these amazing facts about trees.
- No other organism on Earth lives as long as a tree. Trees never die of old age. Trees can live for thousands of years.
- The tallest species of trees in the world include the Coast Redwood, Giant Sequoia, Coast Douglas Fir, Sitka Spruce, and Australian Mountain Ash.
- Trees produce oxygen and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
- Trees help us stay healthy and have been noted to assist people in recovering from surgery.
- Trees produce rings representing years of growth. The dark rings show us slower growth during cooler months and the lighter rings tell us the tree’s fast growth.
- Not all trees have rings! There are trees growing in the tropics that have no discernable annual ring. Why is this? The tropics, for example, are known for their warmth, sunshine, and moisture all year round. So, there is nothing telling the tree to stop growing or to grow faster or slower unlike in climates where there are distinguishable seasons.
- Trees are the largest plants.
Types of Trees / Tree Names
There are two main types of trees: deciduous and evergreen.
What is the meaning of deciduous?
Deciduous trees lose all of their leaves for part of the year. In cold climates, this happens during the autumn so that the trees are bare throughout the winter. In hot and dry climates, deciduous trees usually lose their leaves during the dry season.
What is the meaning of Evergreen?
Evergreen trees don’t lose all of their leaves at the same time — they always have some foliage. They do lose their leaves a little at a time with new ones growing in to replace the old but a healthy evergreen tree is never without leaves.
Characteristics of a Tree / Parts of a Tree / Tree Anatomy
- Roots live underground and are responsible for keeping the tree grounded into the earth and for absorbing water and nutrients from the earth.
- Crown – The upper part of the tree with branches is called the crown.
- Leaves make sugar from air and water through a process called photosynthesis where energy from the sun, carbon dioxide from the air, and water recombine to form sugars and oxygen.
- Twigs are the smallest branches.
- Branches are connected to the trunk but not a part of the trunk.
- Trunks are made up of several layers.
- The outer bark protects the tree from many things such as insects and extreme weather.
- The phloem is a layer of cells that creates the pipeline that carries sugars from the leaves to the tree. As these cells die they become part of the outer bark.
- The cambium is the part of the trunk that grows (more slowly in the winter and more quickly in the summer) and forms the annual rings.
- The sapwood is also a pipeline that carries water and nutrients from the roots up the tree to the leaves. As a new layer of sapwood develops, the original or inner sapwood dies and becomes heartwood.
- Heartwood is the deadwood at the center of the trunk and strengthens the tree.
What is the Life Cycle of a Tree?
There are six main stages to a tree’s life:
- Seed – This stage represents conception as each seed contains an embryo inside its shell.
- Sprout – The tree germinates and is born.
- Seedling – a tree in its infancy and begins to grow.
- Sapling – a juvenile tree continues to grow.
- Adult – The tree produces flowers and fruit and begins the reproduction phase.
- Elderly – The tree is on the decline but is able to pollinate and spread seeds.
- Snag/Rotten Log – The death of the tree.
Children’s Books about Trees
More Tree Learning
- Kids Discover Spotlight – Trees
- BrainPop Videos on Plant Life Cycle, Tree Growth, Seed Plants, and Photosynthesis. My sons love BrainPop videos and games (ages 11, 9, and 6).
- What Makes a Tree a Tree?
- How Trees Calm Us Down
- Free Life Cycle phonics printable books from The Measured Mom
- Check out these epic treehouses from around the world
- Learn about the coolest trees from around the world
Helpful Resources for this Lesson
PBS Kids for Parents – Trees
TedEd Talk on The Secret Language of Trees
More Botany Learning
More Life Cycle Learning
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