Trees and People
Second Nature - Environmental Studies Pack (5-14), SNH & RSPB - available from the RSPB
- To compare the past and present uses made of native species of trees
You will need
- People and trees information sheets (see downloads)
Did you know?
Alder wood becomes as hard as stone when left under water and people have made good use of this property since the Bronze Age, if not before. Crannochs (wooden strongholds on Scottish lochs) were built on rafts or piles of alder trunks and in the Industrial Revolution, alder wood was favoured for the making of lock gates and other canal works - most of Venice is built on piles made of alder trunks.
Before the activity
Discuss some of the following with the children:
- What everyday wooden items do we use today?
- Where are they made - by ourselves, in Scotland or abroad?
- Why was it different in the past? (200 years ago there were few good roads in Scotland, particularly in the Highlands, so timber transport was difficult)
Hand out 'People and Trees' sheets 1 & 2 (see downloads) and get the children to read about how different trees are used to make different products. See if they know of any other uses of particular woods. Laminate a copy of the tree uses picture sheet, one per pair, or small group, for taking out into the field.
Search through the woodland for the trees listed on the picture sheet. You could also identify ones that are not listed. Tick off the ones you find. Using the picture sheet as a guide, see how many of the uses the class can remember for each tree. Discuss the shape, size and the way each tree grows. Can they see why Hazels are used for walking sticks and willows for making baskets? Does the uses of the tree make sense when they see the tree? Oaks grow to a great size, with huge limbs, ash trees are more flexible and graceful, hazels are small and multi-stemmed, willows have long flexible shoots several metres in length for just one seasons growth.
Suggested Follow up
Research more uses of our native trees and mythology and folklore associated with trees (see downloads)
- People and Trees sheet 1.
- People and Trees sheet 2.
- People and Trees sheet 3.
- Information on tree uses, folklore and biology of native Scottish trees Trees for Life - Mythology and Folklore
- The Scottish Wood web site - information on our native woods and their uses.
- Find out about the wood used in the famous boats at the Battle of Trafalgar
'Yuck! by Robert Sneddon, published by Harper Collins, has some photographs of leaves taken under an electron microscope.
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