If you are looking for a fun educational project that gets kids having active fun outdoors and learning about science and nature at the same time, I have a tree leaf identification project that fits that bill perfectly! Not only will kids have fun hunting for different types of trees, they will also learn tree leaf identification skills that will stick with them for life.
How To Teach Kids Tree Leaf Identification
Through these tree identification activities for kids, they will learn how to identify a type of tree by looking primarily at its leaves. They will also learn to look at the tree bark and tree seeds for further tree identification clues.
You will need to start the tree leaf identification project with a trip to the library to get a tree identification manual or field guide.
Alternatively, you can use Arbor Day Foundation’s “What Tree Is That?” online resource or download a tree identification app.
You will also want to provide your child with a notebook where they can record their work as they go and/or a poster board. They will need pencil or pen and scotch tape as well.
Tree Leaf Identification Activity Instructions:
Teach children how to classify trees and identify the tree species using your chosen identification resource guide, online resource, or app.
Make sure children know the difference between coniferous trees and deciduous trees. There is a study lesson about that here and that basic step is an important part of the tree identification process.
Help them identify whether leaves are simple or compound and how they are arranged on the same twig.
Tree Identification Activities For Kids
This tree leaf identification project can be arranged and presented in various ways in order to suit your child’s personality. It can even be adjusted to meet the needs of several children of varying ages.
Make A Tree Identification Book
Older, more patient kids can make a tree identification book which they can work on over the course of several weeks with a goal of 5 new tree species each week.
Tree Leaf Identification Chart
Younger children can make a tree leaf identification chart. You can challenge them to divide a poster board into 9 square equal parts and create a display to showcase 9 different tree species that they were able to identify in their neighborhood.
Tree Scavenger Hunt
If you have competitive children in the same age group, you can even organize it as a scavenger hunt for trees. Let them see who can turn in the most extensive tree identification book or tree leaf identification chart at the end of a given time period such as 4 hours. You can even provide a bonus point for each way that they can list that trees are beneficial to humans.
Provide A List Of Information Kids Should Gather During These Tree Identification Activities:
This is particularly easy if they are working on making a tree identification book and they can bring the notebook with them into the field as they work. If they are making a tree leaf identification chart they can just work on species at a time before going on to another so they don’t confuse observations.
For Each Tree Species-
- Tree leaf sample
- Sketch of the way leaves grow on a twig
- Sketch of tree flowers (if applicable)
- Tree seed sample or sketch
- Bonus: hypothesis about how these tree seeds are dispersed based on their size and shape
- Location of the tree where the leaf was collected (in case you need to return for further identification help)
- What the bark of the tree looked like (color and texture)
- Coniferous or Deciduous
- Tree Name (The identification can be done as your go or all at once back home.)
Depending on the child’s age, more or less involvement will be necessary. You will also want to follow up to see if they make the correct tree identifications, if they have unanswered questions, and of course, to look at and praise their scientific work!
You can print the image below to paste into the front of their homemade Tree ID Book to make it easy if you like.
This homemade tree identification book will be handy to refer to in the future and it makes a great keepsake as well.
I hope you and your child enjoy this tree leaf identification project a great way to get the kids active outdoors and learning about their environment at the same time. This is a fun activity that can be done by one child or by a group of children together as a race.
Which tree identification activities for kids do you think your child will enjoy the most? Tag us in your photos #familyfocusblog