It’s National Tree Week, so why not try these simple outdoor activities in school, or with your own family, to get kids learning through trees? The tree activities touch on art, science and maths – and they’re fun.
Activity 1: Bark rubbing
Even when trees have no leaves, you can still enjoy their shape and their wonderful bark. This is a good time to take bark rubbings. Press a sheet of thick paper against the tree and rub a wax crayon or soft charcoal over the page to produce an interesting pattern.
Activity 2: Tell the age of a tree
Because a tree grows quickly in the summer, then more slowly in the winter, the trunk builds up layers of annual growth rings. Find a tree that has been cut down, or even a log, and count the number of rings to work out how old it is. Can you find the ring which shows the year you were born?
Tree Fact: Did you know…? Trees are the oldest (and some of the largest) living things on Earth. The oldest living tree in the world is reckoned to be the Great Basin Bristlecone Pine in the US – getting on for 5,000 years old! Here in the UK, there are yew trees still going strong at 2,000 years old.
Activity 3: Work out the height of tree
This is a great activity for a maths class. Kids basically are invited to find a tall tree and work out its height.
What you need:
Just a tape measure or measuring stick, a straight stick, a friend and a tree. You will not need a ladder, long rope, giraffe or even trampoline!
How to do it:
- Closing one eye, hold the stick vertically in front of you at arm’s length. Stepping backwards and forwards, with one eye still shut, line up the stick with the bottom and top of the tree until it appears the same height as the tree.
- Stand still at this point and turn the stick 90 degrees so it is horizontal. Line up one end of the stick with the bottom of the tree trunk.
- Keep standing still and keep the same eye closed. Ask your friend to stand by the tree and then walk out sideways, level with the tree (not towards or away from you) until they appear at the other end of your stick. Tell them to stay right there.
- Run over with the tape measure and measure the distance between him or her and the tree. This will be the height of the tree. It works for houses and other tall things too.
Tree fact: Did you know…? The world’s largest trees are the Giant Sequoias of California, which grow to an average height of 50-85m and average diameter of 6-8m. The record was 94.8m high and 17m in diameter. If it helps, that’s roughly the same height as Big Ben!