Source:Craigellachie National Nature Reserve, Education Pack (SNH)
- To look in detail at many different aspects of a tree
45 minutes or longer
You will need
- worksheets (see downloads) or notebooks
- pencils and wax crayons
- Tree identification guides (see downloads and additional information below)
Did you know?In native woodlands, although one species may be dominant such as birch, oak, ash or pine, there will be a good mix of other species too, such as bird cherry, holly, hawthorn, alder, hazel and many more. Many of the best examples of semi-natural native woods are now nature reserves.
Before the Activity
Ask the children to find out as much as they can about one species of common native tree. They can then look out for, and identify, this tree when they are on their field trip. Beinn Eighe, Glen Affric and Abernethy Forest National Nature Reserves are excellent examples of woodland habitats that may be interesting to study.
Go to an area of woodland where there are enough big trees for the children to select one each, or one between two. The worksheets are designed to get the children to look in detail at their chosen tree. Alternatively, give the children notebooks and get them to look at (depending on the time of year):
Leaves How are the leaves arranged on the twigs? Are they opposite each other or do they alternate from one side of the twig to the other? Do the leaves have a smell? Feel the leaves, is the texture of the fallen leaves different to those on the tree?
Buds What shape and colour are the buds? How are they arranged on the twig?
Flowers The flowers on some trees are so small you might not see them. Look for catkins. These are the flowers of wind pollinated trees, like birch and willow.
Fruit and seeds What kind of fruit does the tree produce to carry its seed? How does the seed travel? Is it a berry (travels after being eaten by birds and mammals), nut (carried away by mammals and birds and buried in the ground or accidently dropped), or winged seed (spins or floats away carried in the wind)?
Also get them to look at:
Bark Look at the colours and patterns. Feel the texture, and note how different trees can be recognised in the winter, when the leaves and fruits have gone, by their different bark. Take a rubbing of the bark.
Roots Can the tree's roots be seen? They may be crossing a path.
Shape Each kind of tree has a typical shape. Can they draw the shape of the tree?
Plants on the tree Are there any plants growing on the tree?
Animals on the tree Can they spot any animals using the tree, where are they on the tree, and what are they doing?
Name Can they identify their tree from the tree guides?
Suggested Follow up
- See the activity Barking up the right tree in this section.
- Try some of the leaf activities suggested in
the activity Leaf Games in this section.
- Information and illustrations on native trees, their uses and their folklore Trees for Life,
- Information and illustrations for species of native treesin Scotland
- Worksheet My Tree
- Worksheet Getting to know a tree (2 pages)
- Worksheet Tree Spotter
- A Tree Name Trail from Forestry Commission
- The Field Studies Council makes a laminated fold-out tree guide, of common tree species
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