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Planting Trees to Help the Planet



--Life Sciences
Social Studies
--Current Events


Grades 2-up

News Content

Millions of new trees will be planted this Arbor Day.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, ask students to agree or disagree with each of the statements below. This will set a purpose for reading; as they read, they will confirm their assumptions or learn something new.

  • Arbor Day is celebrated in April all over the U.S. and around the world.
  • Trees can help homeowners cut their electric bills.
  • Trees help to protect endangered fish.
  • Millions of trees will be planted this year around Arbor Day.

    News Words

    Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: encourage, endangered, air conditioning, favor, measurements, and register. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • The builder took precise _____ to be sure the windows would fit when they were installed. (measurements)
  • In Yellowstone Park, the grizzly bear has been removed from the list of _____ species. (endangered)
  • My aunt took me out to dinner and a movie because I did her the _____ of watching her cat while she was on vacation. (favor)
  • Our new house has central _____ to keep it cool. (air conditioning)
  • The coach searched for new ways to _____ the team to do its very best. (encourage)
  • Mr. Lester, our English teacher, added the new students name to his attendance _____. (register)

    Read the News

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

  • Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

  • Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

  • Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

  • Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.
  • Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Planting Trees to Help the Planet.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • In 1854, J. Sterling Morton and his wife moved from Detroit, Michigan, to the Nebraska Territory. Soon Morton would start the first newspaper in Nebraska. He worked to draw more people to the newly settled land, but the lack of trees was a serious obstacle. The grass-covered prairies made good farmland, but the lack of trees meant there was little wood for building or heating homes. Thats why Morton introduced the idea of Arbor Day in 1872. It is said that more than a million trees were planted on that first Arbor Day celebration in Nebraska.
  • Other states soon introduced an annual Arbor Day. Schools played a very active role in celebrating Arbor Day too. By 1894, Arbor Day was celebrated in every U.S. state. For many years, it was celebrated on April 22 because that was Mortons birthday. Today, most states (as well as many countries around the world) celebrate Arbor Day around the date when it is best to plant young trees in that state. Many states celebrate Arbor Day on the last Friday in April; that is also the date set aside in the United States for National Arbor Day. Use the State Arbor Day Dates resource to learn when Arbor Day is celebrated in your state.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one acre of forest land absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. That is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.
  • According to Dr. E. Greg McPherson of the Center for Urban Forest Research, "If you plant a tree today on the west side of your home, in 5 years your energy bills should be 3 percent less. In 15 years the savings will be nearly 12 percent."
  • Doctors say that trees help reduce stress. When exposed to pictures of trees in a laboratory setting, people relax. Trees positively affect blood pressure and muscle tension.
  • In addition to the projects mentioned in the News for You article, this year American Forests also plans to plant
    --- 3,000 trees to restore tree cover to the Cranesville Swamp Preserve in Maryland.
    --- pine and fir trees in Arizona, to restore habitat for northern goshawk.
    --- ponderosa pines to restore a key elk winter range in Montana.
    --- 225,000 trees to restore native habitat and wildlife corridors in the Lower Rio Grande.
    --- jack pine and hardwoods to restore sites for grouse, hawks, and osprey in Wisconsin.
    --- 10,000 trees to protect habitat for flying squirrels and saw-whet owls in Wyoming.
    --- trees to protect a drinking water aquifer in Honduras.
    --- trees for orangutan, gibbon, and stork habitats in Malaysia.
    --- nearly 1 million trees to protect monarch butterfly sites in Mexico.

    Comprehension Check

    Revisit the Anticipation Guide at the top of this lesson; ask students to respond again to the statements in it.

  • Arbor Day is celebrated in April all over the U.S. and around the world. (false, it is celebrated at different times of the year in different places)
  • Trees can help homeowners cut their electric bills. (true, trees provide shade that can help cut the cost of air conditioning in summer)
  • Trees help to protect endangered fish. (true, trees provide shade that helps keep water cool for fish)
  • Millions of trees will be planted this year around Arbor Day. (true)

    You might follow-up that activity by asking some of these questions:

    Recalling Detail

  • Why do we celebrate Arbor Day? (Its a day set aside to encourage people to plant and care for trees.)
  • How many trees will the group American Forests plant this year? (3 million)
  • What kind of trees will be planted in Florida? (longleaf pines)
  • Why are trees being planted in California? (to replace trees that were destroyed by fire)
  • Where was Arbor Day first celebrated? (in Nebraska)
  • Why does the date of Arbor Day celebrations change from state to state? (Arbor Day is usually timed to coincide with the best time for planting new trees in that state.)

    Think About the News
    Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students news page. You might use the think-pair-share strategy with students to discuss this question. If you use this strategy

  • First, arrange students into pairs to discuss and list responses to the question.
  • Then merge two pairs of students together to create groups of four students. Have them discuss and add to the ideas they generated in their pairs.
  • Next, merge two groups of four students to form groups of eight students. Have students create a new combined list of ideas.
  • Finally, bring all students together for a class discussion about the best tree to plant and where to plant it.

    Follow-Up Activities

    Make a graph. When is Arbor Day celebrated? Use the resource State Arbor Day Dates or Arbor Day Celebration Dates to determine how many states celebrate Arbor Day each month. Create a month-by-month graph to show the results of the activity.

    Technology. Where can the biggest trees of many species be found? Students will use the online resource National Register of Big Trees to complete this Big Trees Across the United States activity.

    Measure trees in your community. The National Register of Big Trees keeps a record of the largest trees in the United States. In New York City, Great Trees of New York City provides a record of the largest trees of each type there. Why not compile a guide to the biggest trees in your community? Start right in your school yard. Teach students how to measure a tree and take it from there. If those measurement instructions are too complex for your students, your students might just measure the height of trees. There are some easy ways to measure or estimate a trees height. See How to Measure a Champion Tree: Height Measurement (The "Stick Method") or Estimating the Height of a Tree for suggestions.

    Geography. Challenge students to use the Hardiness Zone Lookup Tool to determine which of the pairs of cities below is in the northernmost hardiness zone. (Notes: ZIP Codes, which are needed to use this tool, are provided in parentheses. Correct answers appear in bold type.)

  • Springfield, Massachusetts (01101) or Walla Walla, Washington (99362)
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (19019) or Sacramento, California (94203)
  • Bangor, Maine (04401) or Butte, Montana (59701)
  • Atlanta, Georgia (30301) or Tulsa, Oklahoma (74101)
  • Louisville, Kentucky (40301) or Charlotte, North Carolina (28201)
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan or Nashville, Tennessee (37201)

    More Activities

  • Trees Sprout Classroom Lessons Throughout the Year
  • Plan an Arbor Day Ceremony
  • Perform the Play "Trees a Joy Forever"
  • Arbor Day Crafts
  • Order the Free "Celebrate Arbor Day Guidebook"


    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News question on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.7 Evaluating Data
    NL-ENG.K-12.11 Participating in Society
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    MATHEMATICS: Measurement
    GRADES Pre-K - 2
    NM-MEA.PK-2.2 Apply Appropriate Techniques, Tools, and Formulas to Determine Measurements
    GRADES 3 - 5
    NM-MEA.3-5.1 Understand Measurable Attributes of Objects and the Units, Systems, and Processes of Measurement
    NM-MEA.3-5.2 Apply Appropriate Techniques, Tools, and Formulas to Determine Measurements
    GRADES 6 - 8
    NM-MEA.6-8.1 Understand Measurable Attributes of Objects and the Units, Systems, and Processes of Measurement
    NM-MEA.6-8.2 Apply Appropriate Techniques, Tools, and Formulas to Determine Measurements
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NM-MEA.9-12.1 Understand Measurable Attributes of Objects and the Units, Systems, and Processes of Measurement
    NM-MEA.9-12.2 Apply Appropriate Techniques, Tools, and Formulas to Determine Measurements

    GRADES K - 4
    NS.K-4.3 Life Science
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NS.5-8.3 Life Science
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NS.9-12.3 Life Science

    GRADES K - 4
    NSS-C.K-4.5 Roles of the Citizen

    GRADES 5 - 8
    NSS-C.5-8.5 Roles of the Citizen
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NSS-C.9-12.5 Roles of the Citizen

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography
    GRADES K - 12
    NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms

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

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Ellen Delisio and Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2007 Education World