Taken by Trees: 8 Ways to Love the Trees in Your Life

Photo by ArtMarie / iStock
Photo by ArtMarie / iStock

Have you spent some time with a good tree lately? Trees occupy such a special place in stories and memories of childhood. Seen through a child’s eyes, a mature tree becomes another world, full of hiding places and swinging places and places to spy on the antics of adults below.

Trees also  happen to be wonderful teachers, if only we stop for a moment to spend some time with them. To celebrate Arbor Day, why not spend some time with the trees growing in your neck of the woods? Here are some simple ways to love the good trees in your life. 

1. Take a tree walk and identify the trees in your neighborhood.

A purposeful tree-gazing walk helps your child practice her observation skills, become curious about nature.

2. Get a tree app!

To identify unknown species, you can use this wonderful tree identification guide from the Arbor Day Foundation—and even better, it’s available as an app! The app helps you identify the leaves you found by using an easy-to-follow, step-by-step question and answer process to narrow down the kind of tree the leaf came from.

3. Build her arboreal vocabulary.

Teach kids words like evergreen and deciduous.  Evergreen trees keep their needles and leaves all year long and into the next growing season. Deciduous trees are the kind that turn bright colors in the fall and lose their leaves when the seasons change.

4. Learn what’s native where you live.

Stop by the library to check out a field guide to local trees that grow in your state, or search online for native trees common in your area. Talk with your child about what a native species is (a species that occurs naturally in a particular place, ecosystem, or habitat without human intervention).

5. Gather some leaves.

Try to find fallen leaves from a wide variety of trees in your neighborhood, or gently remove a single leaf from each variety of tree you can find.

6. Make a bark rubbing. 

Help your child use a crayon to create some bark rubbings.

7. Create a tree journal!

Once you’ve collected a variety of leaves, you can create a tree journal. Help your child create a neighborhood tree guide by stapling a few pieces of paper together, one page for each leaf you’ve collected. On each page, write the name of the tree and tape or glue the leaf onto the page. You can add additional information and images like bark rubbings, words to describe the tree, and where you can find it in your neighborhood. (Parents can help write words for very young children of course.)

8. Find a big tree. Climb it. It’s good for the soul!

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