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  Student Activity Starters

(To be done one to a few days in the classroom)

Introduce a tree - Choose one species per student. Use the PIC site to provide species info.

Adopt a tree - Select one tree on school property and use this PIC web site to present background info. Have students measure, categorize and describe the tree.

Identify leaves - Have students bring in tree leaves and use the PIC site to identify them.

Tree Terminology - Use the PIC Glossary to introduce key terms for plant ID.

Whole Tree Physiology - Describe an entire tree from roots to leaf top. Note changes in leaves and branches as you move upward.

Tree Shapes / Silhouettes - examine tree crown shapes. How do the shapes differ for different species? Why?

Fall Leaves - Collect and press leaves before and after the fall color changes. Discuss the chemical process that causes leaves to change color during the fall months.

Pressing Leaves - Use a PIC link for instructions on how to press leaves and mount them with full botanical id.

Biggest Tree "Contest" - Have students look in their areas for the largest trees. Measure their girth and collect a leaf for ID. Rank the trees as to size and species. What do these large trees have in common?

Tree as Ecosystem - Use PIC to examine a tree as a food source for other animals. What animals live in or eat in this tree? What makes a tree a good ecosystem?

Botanical Succession - Use a past cleared area to look at what plants and trees first begin to invade the cleared space. Identify these trees and use that to predict the future of this site and to look at other sites and recognize the history.

Tree Height - How do botanist determine the height of a tree? Does tallest necessarily mean oldest?

Root area - A tree's roots extend out as far as from the trunk as the limb tips. Mark off the root area of a tree. Discuss why construction often causes root and tree damage and death.

Winter tree ID - What are ways to id trees without leaves? Use a winter tree guide to introduce branching and bark as identification tools.

Habitat Range - Choose 5 PIC trees and record their habitat range. What factors limit a tree's ability to grow? Place and color common tree ranges on a state or regional map.

Seed Types - Have students collect a variety of seed and examine them. Introduce the different seed types as seen on the PIC site (capsule, cone, stone…). What advantage is there for each seed type?

Grocery store fruit - Use the local grocery or farmers market to assemble a variety of fruits. Which come from trees, bushes, vines, or shrubs?

Furniture woods - Have students look at home for items that clearly show their tree history. What tree are used in furniture and why? Use the PIC site to highlight trees that have a major use in the production of wood products.

Tree Diseases - Have students look for leaves that show tree health problems. Look for clues to the source of the problem. Trees suffer from viral and fungal infections just like people. Use the PIC site to highlight some common disease damage.

Leaf Litter - Choose a tree that has a good amount of leaf litter below it. Have students examine the litter carefully for insects, counting and recording kinds and numbers. Identify the tree and describe how the fallen leaves create the ecosystem underneath it.

Leaf rubbings - Have students bring in 4-5 fresh leaves. Make rubbings of these leaves with crayons and evaluate vein structure, edge/margin shapes and size differences. Use the rubbings to identify the leaves on the PIC site.

Tree Farming - Introduce tree farming as part of the states resources. Christmas trees and pine trees are grown on farms. Use the PIC site to identify particular species that have economic importance on tree farms.

Garden shop trees - Why aren't all trees listed on the PIC site? Introduce the idea of hybrid trees that are created for certain characteristics. What trees are common in your area that are not on the PIC site? Where did those trees originate?

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