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Arbor Day Across the United States
-- A Color-Key Map Activity


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Trees Sprout Classroom Lessons Throughout the Year

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Subjects

  • Arts & Humanities: Visual Arts
  • Educational Technology
  • Mathematics: Statistics
  • Science: Life Sciences: Botany
  • Science: Physical Science: Earth Science
  • Science: Physical Science: Environmental
  • Social Studies: Geography
  • Social Studies: Holidays

Grades

  • 3-5
  • 6-8

Brief Description

Use a color-key map to learn about planting times, then create your own Arbor Day color-key map.

Objectives

Students will
  • learn about hardiness zones used to guide planting.
  • read a hardiness zone color-key map.
  • create their own color-key maps to show when different states celebrate Arbor Day.

Keywords

Arbor Day, tree, color key, map, plant, spring, states

Materials Needed

  • United States outline map (provided)
  • crayons
  • Internet access (or resources printed from the Web)

Lesson Plan

Introduce students to the Plant Hardiness Zone Map resource on the ArborDay.org Web site. If students do not have individual Internet access, you can

  • use a projector connected to a computer to display the image;
  • create a color copy of the image on a transparency and use an overhead projector to display the map; or
  • provide color copies of the map for students or groups of students.

The Hardiness Zone color-key map divides the United States and Canada into 11 different zones based on the average temperature for each zone. Those zones help determine such things as 1) the types of plants and trees that thrive in each zone and 2) the best time of year to plant different plants and trees in each zone.

If you live in Canada, you can refer students to Plant Hardiness Zones in Canada.

The Hardiness Zone Web page also provides a search engine. You can type your local ZIP Code into the search engine and learn which zone you live in, as well as some of the characteristics of that zone. Demonstrate the search engine for students by typing your ZIP Code into the search engine's window and reading the results.

Discuss with students the use of color on the map. If this is your students' first exposure to a color-key map, point out the color key and talk about its relationship to the map. You might ask such questions as Which hardiness zones can be found in Florida? (zones 8, 9, and 10) or How many different zones can be found in the state of Arizona? (four).

Next, introduce the idea that different states celebrate Arbor Day in different months of the year. Arbor Day takes place during the month of April in most parts of the United States, but some states celebrate Arbor Day during other months, because those months are the best tree-planting times in their states. Share with students the Web resource Arbor Day Dates Across America from the ArborDay.org Web site. Take a brief look to see that different states do, indeed, celebrate Arbor Day during different months of the year.

Provide each student with a blank outline map of the United States, and tell students they are going to create color-key maps of their own. Their color-key maps are going to show the months of the year in which different states celebrate Arbor Day.

If you do not have a blank outline map of the United States, you can find a nice variety of maps in the following Web resources:

Guide students as they create the color key for their maps to be sure they assign a different color to states that celebrate Arbor Day in

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • November
  • December
(No states celebrate Arbor Day in June, July, August, September, or October.)
If you want to make the task slightly easier for younger students, you might limit the number of colors to five by using one color to indicate states that celebrate Arbor Day in January or February, one color to indicate states that celebrate in November or December, and single colors to indicate states that recognize Arbor Day in the months of March, April, and May.

Have students use the Web resource Arbor Day Dates Across America to learn the month in which each state celebrates Arbor Day. Then tell them to refer to their color keys and color each state on the map the appropriate color on the key.

The students' completed Arbor Day Color Key Maps can provide a quick visual reference guide to the month in which different states celebrate this special holiday for trees.

Extension Activity
The Arbor Day Dates Across AmericaWeb page also provides the name of each state's official State Tree. Assign a different state tree to each student and have that student use library and/or Internet resources to learn about the tree, its range, and its special features.

Assessment

Provide a quick quiz, such as the five-question quiz below, and have students use their completed color-key maps to answer the questions:

  • During which month of the year do most states celebrate Arbor Day? (April)
  • How many states celebrate Arbor Day during January or February? (five states)
  • Which is the only state that celebrates Arbor Day in December? (South Carolina)
  • In which month does Texas celebrate Arbor Day? (April)
  • Do more states celebrate Arbor Day in March or in May? (May)

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

FINE ARTS: Visual Arts
GRADES K - 4
NA-VA.K-4.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.K-4.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
GRADES 5 - 8
NA-VA.5-8.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.5-8.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
GRADES 9 - 12
NA-VA.9-12.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.9-12.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines

MATHEMATICS: Connections
GRADES Pre-K - 12
NM-CONN.PK-12.3 Recognize and Apply Mathematics in Contexts Outside of Mathematics

MATHEMATICS: Representation
GRADES Pre-K - 12
NM-REP.PK-12.3 Use Representations to Model and Interpret Physical, Social, and Mathematical Phenomena

SCIENCE
GRADES K - 4
NS.K-4.3 Life Science
NS.K-4.4 Earth and Space Science
GRADES 5 - 8
NS.5-8.3 Life Science
NS.5-8.4 Earth and Space Science
GRADES 9 - 12
NS.9-12.3 Life Science
NS.9-12.4 Earth and Space Science

GEOGRAPHY
GRADES K - 12
NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms
NSS-G.K-12.5 Environment and Society
NSS-G.K-12.6 Uses of Geography

TECHNOLOGY
GRADES K - 12
NT.K-12.1 Basic Operations and Concepts
NT.K-12.5 Technology Research Tools

Find more great springtime lessons on Education World's Spring Lesson Plans page.
Click to return to this week's Lesson Planning article, Trees Sprout Classroom Lessons Throughout the Year.

Originally published 04/18/2003
Last updated 02/22/2010

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