Spring Trees


Branches from trees and bushes can be collected in the early spring, brought indoors, and placed in water. Youth can then closely observe the emergence of leaves and flowers. They can consider such questions as Do the leaves on the trees all emerge at the same time or do some trees sprout leaves sooner than others? Do all trees produce spring flowers? What environmental factors may bring about these changes?

On field trips, youth observe the emergence and timing of flowers on different kinds of trees. They also examine different flowers and get a sense of their structure. This provides a context for discussing the reproductive strategies of trees.

Youth collect seeds and attempt to germinate them. Youth may not be aware of the dormancy of seeds. Spring is a good time for youth to consider and study this property.

The roots of plants are not easily observed. In this activity, youth build a specially designed arrangement that allows them to observe the growth of roots and the correlation between root growth and stem extension.

Youth are challenged to design the arrangement of leaves on a branch of a tree using simple materials. This exercise can help them see that there is order to the way leaves grow on trees.

Youth’s close examination of the structures of different kind of leaves, especially their cellular arrangements, can be the context for examining the micro-structure of trees and the distribution of water and food in trees.

Youth estimate the total number of leaves on a tree and then find the surface area of one leaf. Then they calculate the total surface area of all the leaves on a tree.

Using simple materials, youth are challenged to design their own trees.

Also available on Amazon.com


The investigation of trees and other plants should be an extended one. Youth can start the year working on the fall activity suggestions provided, and then move on to winter explorations of trees and plants before starting in on the spring activities. The spring activities build on what youth began in the fall but take advantage of changes that only occur in the spring.

Spring is a time when continual and dramatic changes in trees and plants occur. Some of these changes are slow and gradual while others happen quickly. Because some things change so rapidly, it is useful to make frequent field trips with youth to observe these changes. Getting outdoors to observe trees and plants can be a pleasant and interesting activity for youth. The changes to trees and plants during the spring are in strong contrast to those that youth may have observed in the fall. The various changes provide opportunities to discuss some basic concepts that are related to the life sciences.

During field trips to the local neighborhood or a special trip to a forest, pay attention to specific characteristics of trees and plants. The following activities provide suggestions for these studies. Concurrently, you can undertake other activities with youth that involve the growing of flowers and/or vegetables, which can help youth more closely observe the requirements of plant growth.

The following is a set of activities that are related to changes during the spring. You should carefully plan the sequence in which you do the activities. This sequence will depend greatly on what is happening to trees and other plants in your region. You should do the Buds and Twigs activity early in the spring. The activity Designing a Tree is meant to be a culminating activity and can be used as a type of embedded assessment. Flowers is best done after flowers have emerged on local trees. The other activities can happen when they appear to be most aligned with changes in trees outdoors.