Our Wonderful World by Emery Lewis Howe is a rich nature study book available for free download covering backyard neighbors, feathered friends, garden life, four-footed comrades, and the earth and its neighbors. By covering one chapter a week, there are 32 weeks worth of lessons. Enjoy the complete series!
We are in the third section of the book, Garden Life, covering plants in 12 lessons including how plants grow, flowers, roots, stems, leaves, wildflowers, pollination, trees, seeds, and wheat/bread.
- An illustrated tree guide will be handy to have on hand for this lesson. You’ll find recommendations below.
- Look in your illustrated tree guide, or in Trees Worth Knowing by Julia Ellen Rogers, or out your own front window, and decide which tree “you like best of all.” What about that particular tree makes it your favorite?
- Add the trees mentioned in the lesson to your plant notebook: cherry, birch, sugar maple, elm, pepper, magnolia, cypress, palm, willow, white birch, apple, pear, plum, peach, walnut, beech, butternut, hickory, pine, larch, tamarack, and fir.
- Read the poem “Birches” by Robert Frost.
- Picture your favorite tree in each of the four seasons. Take a piece of paper and fold it into four sections. Label the sections spring, summer, fall and winter. Draw a picture of what your favorite tree looks like in each season. You’ll find helps in the resources below.
- Make a list of trees used for food. You can use this guide from the University of Illinois to get you started. Look up each tree in The Plant Encyclopedia, and make a notebooking page for each.
- Make a list of five articles around the house that are made from wood. Include what type of wood they are made from, and why that type of wood was chosen.
- You can read about the Johnstown Flood at the Johnstown Area Heritage Association.
- Research the benefits of trees, including soil conservation. (See resources below for help.)
- Try the tree/water experiment with cuttings. Use one of these science experiment notebooking pages to record the results.
- Jotham’s fable can be read in Judges 9:8-15.
- Read Isaiah 61:3, and Matthew 7:18. Then copy Proverbs 20:11.
- For the first activity, you can use a tree observation chart or a simple journal sheet to record your observations.
- Download the Celebrate Arbor Day Guidebook for activity two (see resources below).
- Activity three: Read the story of “The Honorable Crimson Tree.”
- For activity five, Take a Tree Walk. See resources below for more information on this handy book.
- Read the poem “Trees” by Alfred Joyce Kilmer.
- Memorize Psalm 1:3 or Jeremiah 17:7,8 and use for copywork or dictation.
- Read Psalm 92:12-14 out loud.
- More about trees from the Book of Knowledge:
A tall, spreading tree is one of the grandest sights in nature. However, the majestic oak or maple, the graceful elm, the somber spruce do not differ in the way they grow from small shrubs or from the lowliest herb or moss.For convenience, trees are often classed as evergreen and deciduous. Among the evergreens, the leaves fall singly throughout the year so that the tree is never bare. In general, the term “evergreen” is used for the cone-bearing trees, or conifers, such as the pine and the spruce. But some evergreen trees, such as the holly, are not cone-bearing; and some conifers, such as the larch and the bald cypress, are not evergreens but lose their leaves in winter.
The deciduous trees are well known to us; the oak, the birch and the hickory, the elm and maple are all deciduous. They lose their leaves in the winter and grow fresh leaves in the spring. The deciduous trees are sometimes called hardwoods. In some cases their wood, as in the oak, is indeed very hard, but in some of them — like the poplar, the basswood or the tulip tree — the wood is soft. Deciduous trees are broad-leaved.
“The Life of a Tree,” The Book of Knowledge
Ready to go outdoors? The Handbook of Nature Study covers trees beginning on page 618, and continuing through page 692. The beginning pages cover the parts of a tree, the way a tree grows, and how to begin a tree study. Then follow guidelines for investigating specific types of trees.
Types of Trees
Basic classifications by duration of leaf, flowers and branching.
Why Leaves Change Color
Discusses the four pigments and other info.
How Does a Tree Grow?
Answers from Butler University in Indiana.
Trees for Soil Conservation
Very informative and well illustrated 9-page download from the University of Melbourne. The chart on page 9 will work well as summary page for notebook.
Benefits of Trees and Forests in Communities
A list of benefits in five different areas from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.
Wood You Believe We Get So Much From Trees?
A list of products from wood from the Idaho Forest Products Commission.
From the Arbor Day Foundation. (Be sure to click on “Show All” to see all of the information for each tree.)
Make Four Season Trees
Simple activity that illustrates how a deciduous tree looks in each of the four seasons.
National Tree Benefit Calculator
Want to know what benefits a particular tree in your area provides? (Be sure to click on each of the tabs at the top for each tree.)
Grow a Tree
Instructions from the BBC.
Trees Worth Knowing by Julia Ellen Rogers
Nicely illustrated public domain download.
Tree Guide: Trees East of the Rockies by Julia Ellen Rogers
By the same author, a small public-domain identification guide.
Take a Tree Walk by Jane Kirkland
A book that guides you through a tree walk: what to take, identifying trees, mapping, ideas for things to do, and recording your observations (some forms provided).
The World of Plants by Dinah Zike
Dinah Zike was known for her foldables before lapbooks became popular. In this book she incorporates that learning tool with learning about plants. Includes 24 complete lessons including templates, activities, the scientific method and suggestions for further activities and research. You’ll find the table of contents and an example lesson at the publisher’s website. Lessons are included that cover deciduous trees, tree trunks and roots, and why deciduous leaves change color.
Units & Lesson Plans
How Trees Work for Us
Lesson plan that explores the benefits and products we receive from trees.
Celebrate Arbor Day Guidebook
24-page download from the Arbor Day Foundation that includes the history of Arbor Day, ideas for celebrating the day, classroom activities (most are adaptable to a home setting), information on how to plant a tree, poetry, songs, quotes, and a bibliography for those seeking more information.
Identifying Trees and Developing a Class Herbarium
Lesson plan for a tree walk lab with helpful charts and checklist downloads from the USDA Forest Service.
An Apple Tree Through the Seasons of the Year
Printout to color and label from Enchanted Learning.
Life Cycles of Conifers
Illustrated diagram for notebook.
Meet the Conifers
Nature journal page from Ranger Rick.
Tree Identification Chart
“Simple” way to identify a type of tree.
Plant Growth Monitoring
Plant growth charts.
Wonderful 8-page download that includes notebooking pages for basic identification information, drawing the tree in the four seasons, journaling, leaf and bark rubbings, and charting the growth of a favorite tree chosen for observation.
Trees of North America
This is not a free resource. However for those who want something more formal, this 344+ download includes notebooking pages for 43 trees and the Plants and Trees notebooking pack with tree anatomy, layers of the tree trunk, and twig anatomy pages — all very reasonably priced from NotebookingPages.com. View the sample pages to get an idea of what is included.