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Trees sprout
classroom lessons
throughout the year


Many states -- 34 in all -- celebrate Arbor Day in April. Between Arbor Day and Earth Day, this month is a great time to branch out and include timely tree lessons in your curriculum. Why not go out on a limb! Included: Lessons on measuring trees, reading a color key map, creating tree silhouettes and a "good behavior tree," more.

It may be hard to imagine, but Nebraska was once a treeless plain. J. Sterling Morton, one of the state's early settlers, arrived in Nebraska from Detroit in 1854. Among the first things Morton and his wife did upon their arrival was to plant trees, shrubs, and flowers at their home. Morton used his influence as a journalist to advocate statewide tree planting, and to introduce a new holiday. The first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska in 1874.

You can learn more about the history of Arbor Day on the National Arbor Day Foundation Web site. There, you also will find such resources as a free Tree Guide and Nine Things You Should Know About Trees.

Copy Paper Lesson Plan

How much copy paper is consumed in your school each year? Ask your principal (or the person responsible for ordering supplies for your district) how many cases of copy paper are used. Let students do the math

* Every case of copy paper contains 10 packages of 500 sheets of paper. How many sheets of paper do you use?

* Approximately one tree is cut down for every 10 cases of paper. How many trees does it take to create the copy paper your school consumes? (If your school uses copy paper that includes 20 percent recycled content, you saved 20 percent of those trees!)

What happens in your school to scrap copy paper that has been printed on one side? Is it recycled? reused in any way? Challenge students to work in small groups to brainstorm ways to 1) reduce the amount of paper that gets thrown away or 2) ways to get additional use out of paper before it's recycled. Create a list of student ideas. Talk about those ideas and mark the most doable ideas with a star. Perhaps you can implement those ideas in your classroom, and then students might try to institute paper conservation/reuse ideas school-wide.

In addition to those great resources, Education World offers five new ready-to-use lesson plans, and a guide to more than 2-dozen additional Internet lesson plans for teaching about trees.

Five lessons for teaching about trees

This week, Education World provides five lessons about trees. Click each of the five lesson headlines below for a complete teaching resource. (Appropriate grade levels for each lesson appear in parentheses.)

How Does Your Tree Measure Up?
Students work in groups to calculate the height of a tree, the area of its leaf cover, the number of leaves on it, and more. (Grades 3-12)

Biggest Trees in the United States
Complete the chart that shows the locations and sizes of the biggest trees in the United States. Student work sheet included. (Grades 3-12)

Kirigami: The Ancient Art of Paper Cutting
Practice the ancient art of kirigami to create a stylized tree silhouette. (Grades K-12)

Good Habits Grow in Room 3
Go out on a limb -- ideas for using a classroom tree to recognize good behavior, celebrate holidays, and build skills. (Grades Pre K-8)

Arbor Day Across the United States -- A Color-Key Map Activity
Use a color-key map to learn about planting times; then create an Arbor Day color-key map. (Grades 3-8)

Additional tree resources

Don't miss a page of additional tree lessons we found on the Net. Following are more resources that might add fun or information to your students' tree studies:

Trees: An Online Field Guide (eNature)
Children's Books About Trees
Tree Links for Teachers and Kids (The Idaho Forest)
The Vikings: A Tree-Ring Timeline(PBS)

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
Copyright © 2010, 2015 Education World

Originally published 04/18/2003
Last updated 10/27/2015