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Cherry Blossom Time



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  • Educational Technology
  • Science
  • Social Studies
    Civics, Geography, U.S. History


3-5, 6-8

Brief Description

Students uncover facts about the famous cherry trees of Washington, D.C., and make predictions about this year's peak bloom.


Students Students

  • investigate the history of the cherry trees of Washington, D.C.
  • complete the Cherry Blossom Time work sheet.


cherry, flowers, hunt, plants, predict, spring, temperature, trees, Washington

Materials Needed

  • computers with Internet access (or other sources of information about the cherry trees of Washington, D.C.)
  • Cherry Blossom Time work sheet

Lesson Plan

To many, the event that marks the true beginning of spring in the United States is the blooming of the cherry trees along the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. An annual rite of spring, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is held in late March through early April, but predicting the peak bloom -- like predicting the weather -- is an imprecise science!

Begin this activity by discussing the signs of spring in your area and talk about the change of seasons as reflected in trees. Flowering trees are a common sign of the approach of warmer weather, especially the blooming cherry trees of Washington, D.C. Point out to the students that a festival is held each year to mark this event. Examine the pictures of the Smithsonian Institution's Washington's Spotlight Cherry Blossoms page or other photos of the cherry blossoms. Why, do your students believe, do so many people visit the nation's capital during the festival to see the cherry trees in bloom?

Now distribute to students copies of the Cherry Blossom Time work sheet. (Younger students may benefit from group work, but older students may complete the sheet independently.) Direct students to the Cherry Trees of Washington Bloom Watch page from the National Park Service or other resources you have gathered about the topic. Have them record the appropriate answers to the questions by touring the pages of the Web site.

For the bonus question, students can use two sites to make more accurate predictions: When Will They Bloom? and The Weather Channel: Washington, D.C. Hold a class discussion about when the students expect peak bloom this year and why.

Extension Activities There are many ways to expand this activity! Check out the following three suggestions.

  • Have your students graph the results of the bonus question from the work sheet to see the number of students who chose each day in March or April. Follow the progress of the trees to discover the most accurate horticulturists in your classroom.
  • The cherry trees in Washington were a gift from Japan. Have your students learn about the Japanese tea ceremony and hold one in the classroom. You will find background about the ceremony at Tea in Japan.


Students should correctly answer seven of ten questions on the work sheet and make an appropriate guess for the bonus question.

Answer Key:

  1. Mrs. Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore
  2. Tokyo, Japan
  3. They were infested with insects, nematodes (roundworms), and other diseases.
  4. Yoshino cherry; 2,763
  5. Ten days before peak bloom; weather -- unusually warm weather causes an early bloom, and unusually cold weather causes a late bloom.
  6. 1.Green color in buds, 2. Florets visible, 3. Extension of florets, 4. Peduncle elongation, 5. Puffy white. Drawings should be similar to photos found by clicking on the title of each stage on the "Peak Bloom" page of Cherry Trees of Washington Bloom Watch.
  7. Daffodils; star, saucer, and kobus magnolias; weeping and Yoshino cherries; forsythia; shadblow serviceberry; flowering quince
  8. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
  9. Pruning, watering, wound treatment, insect and disease control, fertilization, aeration/vertical mulching, and replacement
  10. Citizens may donate funds to Blossoms in Our Future, a program from the National Park Service. The cost for one tree and its care is $250.
    Bonus: Answers will vary, but days in March or April are appropriate.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Cara Bafile

National Standards






  • GRADES K - 4
    NSS-USH.K-4.3 The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage
  • GRADES 5 - 12
    NSS-USH.5-12.7 Era 7: The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)
    NSS-USH.5-12.8 Era 8: The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)
    NSS-USH.5-12.9 Era 9: Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)
    NSS-USH.5-12.10 Era 10: Contemporary United States (1968 to the Present)


  • GRADES K - 12
    NT.K-12.5 Technology Research Tools

See more spring lessons on Education World's Spring Has Sprung theme page.

Return to Signs of Spring -- Lessons to Welcome a New Season!.