Observe the World in a Tree (Project) - Brooklyn Botanic Garden

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Observe the World in a Tree (Project)

Observe the World in a Tree (Project)

It's easy to find a whole world of nature wrapped into the neat package of a tree. Why not "adopt" a tree of your very own to observe and care for? Watch how it grows and changes, and find out what you can do to help it.

Try to find a tree in your neighborhood that is taller than 10 feet and has a thick trunk—it’s likely to have more animals and other fun things to observe than a smaller tree.

Use a field guide to find the name of your tree. Get clues from the leaves and the tree’s shape. If it’s winter and there are no leaves, you’ll have to be a tree detective and use other clues—leaf buds, branch shape, or bark texture.

Once you know its name, you can do research to learn where it is from and find out how people and animals use it.

Adopting a tree also means caring for it as it grows. Remove litter from around your tree. Maybe you could plant shadeloving plants under it and mulch the soil to keep the roots cool. Water your tree if the leaves are wilting or the soil is very dry. Check for broken branches or marks on the trunk. (If it’s on public land, parents may want to report damage to the local parks department.)

Tree Journal

At least once a month, visit your tree and record observations about your tree and how it is changing. You can use your nature journal or start a new notebook just for your tree.

A journal page with rubbings of a leaf and bark

Print pages for your tree journal: Journal Activity Pages (PDF)

To make leaf or bark rubbings, place paper over a leaf or a section of bark. Gently rub the side (not the point) of a a pencil or crayon across the paper. Do you see the imprint of the leaf or bark coming through?

Help foster a sense of delight and curiosity about plants and connect children with the natural world with gardening projects created by Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s education team. This project is one in a series. Stay tuned for more!

This project originally appeared in Gardening With Children (Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2007).

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Image, top of page: SAm Tomasello