Students create a model tree costume, which helps them gain a deeper understanding of the form and function of the basic tree parts. This activity serves as an initial exploration into tree growth and provides a foundation for additional observations.
- For trunk: paper grocery bag (one per student)
- For crown: fallen leaves, white paper, old crayons, yarn
- For bark: small pieces of bark from a fallen or dead tree; pieces of crushed cinnamon sticks; sawdust, pine shavings, or cedar chips from a pet store; or bark mulch from a garden shop (or white paper and old crayons to make rubbings of bark)
- For roots: yarn or string
- Glue or tape
- Hole puncher (optional)
- Optional: white paper towel; glass of water; and food coloring
tree, trunk, branch, leaves, bark, roots, seed
- Gather the materials to make the models.
- Cut enough yarn or string into 5-inch (13-cm) lengths so each student will have six. Cut a paper bag vest for each student, following these steps:
- Fold grocery bag flat. Place opening of bag toward you, with the bottom facing up. Place a crease in the middle of the bag’s bottom. Lift bottom of flap up and fold at crease so that points “x” meet.
- Cut along dashed lines.Open bag, cut off extra flaps.
- Cut down middle of one side of vest only. Now you are ready to decorate and wear your vest.
- Plan to model constructing a tree vest along with students, labeling each component (bark, leaf, and so on) on the model vest to reinforce key vocabulary.
Doing the Activity
- Ask the students to name and describe the parts of a tree. Their list should include at least the terms below. Make a large diagram of a tree on the board. Ask students to help you label the parts of the tree. On one side of the tree, write the names of the parts in English. On the other side of the tree, write them in Spanish. Add additional languages as appropriate for your class.
|Parts of Trees:|
- Explain to students that they will make a model tree costume using different materials to represent the different tree parts.
- Using the leaves you gathered, have the students make leaf rubbings with white paper and different colored crayons. To do so, they should place four or five leaves (several types) on a flat surface and put white paper over them. They should use the sides of different crayons to rub across each leaf.
- Have students cut out each leaf rubbing along its outline and punch a hole in it using a pencil or hole punch. With your help, they should thread a piece of yarn through all the paper leaves and tie the yarn around their heads to make a crown of leaves. Their heads now represent the leafy crowns of trees. Discuss with students how the leaves in the tree’s crown soak up sunshine and make food (sugar) for the tree.
- Give a pre-cut paper bag vest to each student. Have each student put on a vest; everyone’s body now represents a tree trunk. Discuss how the trunk supports the tree and holds the crown up where the sun can reach it.
- Tell students to take off their vests and glue bits of bark or crushed cinnamon sticks to the outside of the vest. This represents the bark on the tree’s trunk. If actual bark is not available, students can make rubbings of tree bark and glue these to the outside of their vests. After the glue dries, students may put the vests back on. Discuss how bark protects the tree from rain, cold, insects, disease, and sometimes even fire.
- Give each student six 5-inch (13-cm) lengths of yarn or string to represent roots. Ask students to tuck the roots into their socks or shoes so their roots dangle onto the ground. Discuss how roots absorb water and nutrients from soil.
- Optional: You might try demonstrating absorption by twisting a piece of white paper towel and dipping its end into a glass of water colored with dye. You will see colored water travel up the paper towel the way water travels up tree roots.
Remember to visit the Enrich tab for recommended children’s books that support the science concepts covered in this activity.