Students inventory the plants and animals that live in, on, and around trees and discover how plants and animals depend on trees in many ways.
- Copy of Good-night, Owl! by Pat Hutchins
- Samples of plant or animal life signs (see Getting Ready)
- Empty toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls cut in half
- Tissue paper, paint, glitter, or other decorating materials
- All in a Tree student page
- Hand lenses
- Obtain a copy of Good-night, Owl! (See Literature Connections).
- Collect fallen leaves, twigs, bark, fruit, or nuts that show signs of plant or animal life in trees. (Signs may be chewed holes, tunnels, scrapings, insect egg cases, webs, galls, moss, lichen, or fungi.) As an alternative, you may collect pictures of these things.
- Gather toilet paper tubes or paper towel tubes cut in half. Tape two tubes together, side-by-side, to make binoculars.
- Find an area with several trees (any size) or shrubs that the students can examine, including your adopted tree. SAFETY: Check the site for any hazards such as deep holes, sharp objects, or poisonous or irritating plants.
Doing the Activity
- Remind students that they been observing trees and their parts to learn about their characteristics. In this activity, they will be looking at other animals and plants that are in and around trees.
- Ask: What animals have you seen in or on trees? What were the animals doing in the trees (eating, making a nest, resting, and so on)?
- Read the story, Good-night, Owl! aloud to your students. Ask students to name the animals that visited the hollow tree. What sounds did the animals make? What was each animal doing there? How did they use the tree?
- Show students the signs of plant or animal life you collected. Discuss each sign with the students. Tell them that these examples show ways that animals and other plants depend on trees, and that trees provide a habitat for these plants and animals.
- Remind students about appropriate behavior outdoors (see Getting Ready for the Adopt a Tree activity). Then give them copies of the All in a Tree student page and lead them outside to a tree. Challenge them to find things living on the tree’s trunk and branches, recording what they see on the student page. Give them plenty of time to make their observations; they can pretend to use their binoculars to look at faraway things, or use their hand lenses to look at things up close. Ask these questions:
- Can you spot bird nests, chewed leaves, or other animal signs?
- Do you see any animals climbing around or in the tree, or flying to and from it?
- Do you see any other plants growing on the tree?
- Have students look on the ground around the tree for fallen leaves, twigs, bark, fruits, seeds, or nuts that might also show signs of animal or plant life. Can they find any of the examples that you showed them earlier?
- Wrap up with a discussion that introduces the concept of habitat as a place where an organism lives and which provides food, water, shelter, and space. (Space refers to having enough room to get access to resources like food, water, and shelter.) Ask:
- How might a tree provide food?
- Which organisms use some part of the tree for food? For water? For shelter?
Remember to visit the Enrich tab for recommended children’s books that support the science concepts covered in this activity.