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Hi! My name is Chris, and I'm writing this blog to share my passion...nature!
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As with any activity, please use your discretion and only do things that you deem are safe based on the age of your child and your location.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Trees please!
Ten activities that will foster an appreciation for trees in your child.

Every fall I look forward to going to one of our local apple farms. Our son gets to see where apples come from and how they grow on the tree. We get to pick them ourselves and eat them right from the tree, and we walk through several acres of trees smelling the fresh apples (and some not so fresh that have fallen on the ground). We get to smell, taste, touch, see and hear. The next time you do an activity with your children (or scout group), try to incorporate all the senses, and see how it takes your experience to a deeper level.

Here are some other activities that you can do to inspire gratitude for the plant that gives, every day.

  • Trees give us so many different products! Print off this list of things that we get from trees (it’s from the Idaho Forests Products Commission). Go around the house and either point out the items or ask your child to guess what items came from a tree. (Tip for scout groups…this also makes a great memory game for a group of kids. Gather 15-20 items that come from trees, put them on a baking sheet or tray and cover with a towel. Show the items to the group for 10 seconds before taking the tray away. Ask the kids to write down as many items as they can remember. See if anyone can guess what the items have in common before you mention trees.

  • Be a tree! This works inside, but for the best effect head outside on a sunny, breezy day. Find a tree to be near and pretend that you are a tree. For younger children keep it simple. Stand with your eyes closed and imagine your feet are anchored to the ground like roots. Spread your arms out and wiggle your fingers like branches. Sway back and forth when the wind hits you. For older children, use this great script from Joseph Cornell’s book Sharing the Joy of Nature, and experience the life of a tree through all four seasons.

  • Get a new perspective! Look up close to a tree and far away, feel the different textures of the leaves, the bark, and the branches. Hug a tree! Try to slow things down. Sometimes we’re so caught up in the hectic pace of our everyday lives that we either forget to slow down or have a hard time doing so. Close your eyes and listen to the leaves rustle and the branches creak. Smell the air, the bark and the leaves.

  • Animals need trees too! Ask your child what the tree provides for animals? Who uses the branches, the trunks and the leaves?

  • Try real maple syrup! In spring, head to a local nature center or camp to see how Maple trees are tapped to make maple syrup and maple sugar. Some places sponsor a breakfast where you can come and try the freshly made syrup on pancakes.

  • What does a tree see? Imagine you’re high up in a tree. What would you see?

  • Look under a fallen tree or log and see what you find!

  • Do a bark rubbing! With one sheet of paper and several colored crayons rub the bark of 2 or 3 different types of trees.

  • Make a mystery box! Explore the sense of touch by placing different objects from trees in a box. Have your child touch the items, one at a time (without removing them) and describe the textures. Have them try to guess what it is. Try using twigs, buds, maple tree “helicopter” seeds, pine needles, bark, acorns, leaves, pinecones etc.

  • Identify one or two types of trees. Find a tree identification guide at your library or purchase one. There are also a few online guides like this one from the Arbor Day Foundation.

 I hope you have a wonderful time exploring trees in your neck of the woods!

For some ideas on what to take with you when you explore, take a look at my post Making a Discovery Backpack

For some great winter activities, visit my post The Wonder of Winter.

To reference this post directly, use this link.


  1. What awesome and fun projects and games to play with kids that enhance their love and interest in nature! Love your blog, following you now and looking forward to reading more exciting nature tidbits!!! Thanks for your congrats on my agent deal. I am WAY excited. And would be happy to chat with you about the process if you want to. Feel free to email me any time.

  2. Wonderful ideas! Real maple syrup is yummy!
    Following back from MBC ;)

  3. Great post, Chris. I think trees may be my favorite thing about nature. My kids & I like searching for nests (especially in the winter) & hugging different trees til we find just the right one for each of us! :)

  4. Thank you all! I always appreciate the comments.

  5. Nice ideas and great pictures. We have started pretending to be like trees (my 3 year old and I) it's good for learning patience - we wait like a tree!

  6. Oh Jacqui, how cute! What a great idea!!

  7. Lovely post. We love trees here and spend a lot of time in the woods and out and about. There is always so much to do and see and imagine out there in nature. Lovely blog too!

  8. Chirs,
    Working with young children everyday and being a mom myself, I can't agree with you more. Nature is an important part of early childhood experiences.
    Thanks for spreading the word
    Daniele Sharpe

  9. Sorry for the misspelling of your name. I was so excited about your blog my fingers went quicker than my brain!

  10. I've written your 10 suggestions down and we are going to head outdoors to appreciate trees - such a lovely post! Thank you so much for sharing on Friday's Nature Table.
    Blessings and magic.

  11. You're very welcome! Thank you for the link!

  12. Great post! i want to plant a tree for our wedding in march, just need to pick out the tree!

    Following from MBC

  13. Hey Chris - I love this post! I'm always looking for things to do with my boys inside and out that will hold their interest and mine. I may link to here next time I post a "things to do with your kids in Seattle" article :).

    From MBC.


  14. Thanks Peryl! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.
    And I always appreciate a link!!


  15. My daughter and I were JUST talking about the old oak trees by our house the other day and how long they've been here. It inspired me to write a draft picture book manuscript (that I need to polish), and to stop by and take some photos (just this morning). How timely this post is for me! Thanks. :)

    Following your blog. So glad you left your link on my Mom-Monday post.

  16. Following you from FFF at MBC :) You can find me at

    Great Post!

  17. Genny, I'm so glad you liked it! Thank you for following!

  18. In school they taught us about telling the age of a tree from the rings, for some reason it always stayed in my mind. Nice post! I found you from MBC/FFF group!

    Ascending Butterfly

  19. We LOVE 'real' maple syrup! I actually just finished up mine. I'm on the East Coast, and we had over 40 inches of snow. My girls grabbed a big bowl full of fresh snow, and I poured on the maple syrup (only real syrup will do!). They loved it!

    I'm a new follower from FFF @ Mom Bloggers Club! Love for you to come visit me!

    ~Shelley @ Shelley's Swag

  20. Thank you Tracy and Shelley for following!

  21. Very cool blog. I like how it's different than the other blogs I follow. LOVE the pictures too :)

    Following you from MBC. Come check out my blog too :)

  22. fab pictures-- am now following, thanks for stopping by my blog.

  23. I'm a new follower from MBC. You can find me blogging here:

  24. Following from MBC (FFF Group)
    you can find me at

  25. Hi Chris - thank you for the kind comments about my writing blog. I am sooo loving your blog right now! I had to "follow" you to see what's coming next!

  26. Hi Chris,
    I love this blog post of your's. I'll try out what you shared with my 4 yrs old.

    Following you =)

  27. Great ideas! I plan to use some of your ideas with our cub scouts. I'm following you from Mom Bloggers Club.