Monday, October 17, 2011

Trees ~ A {Free} Unit Study

Fall has come to the northern hemisphere and the leaves are falling which beckon to the children to come out and play.  There is something so beautiful in the crisp cool weather and warm earthy colors. Let us enjoy the season by learning a bit about the trees and what makes this time of year so special.

Suggested Chapter Book to Read AloudMy Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George (A story of nature about a boy who goes to live in the mountains and hollows out a tree to live in. He does tell his parents first and this theme did not present a problem in our household but I thought I would inform any concerned parents about the plot. This is a very informative but fun book!) An alternative read aloud chapter book would be a biography on the life of Johnny Appleseed.


Suggested Picture BooksTell Me, Tree: All About Trees for Kids by Gail Gibbons (There is a reference to millions of years on one page which I whited out for my library collection.) Why Do Leaves Change Color? (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 2) by Betsy Maestro,  A Tree Is a Plant (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science) by Clyde Robert Bulla, Be a Friend to Trees (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out, Stage 2) by Patricia Lauber, Sugaring Time by Kathryn Lasky.


I would suggest reading together from the above chapter book for 1/2 hour a day. Read one of the pictures books per day as well since they are the non-fiction source of information in this study (though the chapter book is filled with nature information). (The books are just suggestions and you may use whatever you have available to you.) Then, have the children do some of the listed activities below each day according to their abilities.  Include all work separately in a notebook/binder or composition book for each child. Don't forget to let them decorate their own covers with pictures of trees, stickers or clip art! Encourage them to be creative.  By the end of a few weeks you will have a nice collection of "tree scrapbooks" to cherish as an educational keepsake.

Tree Inspired Learning Activities~

Spelling/Vocabulary Words:
  1. tree
  2. autumn
  3. leaf
  4. branch
  5. photosynthesis
  6. coniferous
  7. evergreen
  8. deciduous

Science/Nature: After reading to the children, Tell Me, Tree: All About Trees for Kids by Gail Gibbons, go outside on a nature walk and each day find a different kind of tree to do a tree bark rubbing and leaf rubbing of.  Cut and paste onto notebook paper and using a field guide, label your entries.

Science/Nature: Draw and diagram a tree and a leaf.

Science/Nature: Learn about root systems from an encyclopedia or other reference book. Have students write out a short description of their function.

Science/Nature: Learn about photosynthesis from an encyclopedia or other reference source.  Write a brief explanation of the process. Make sure to discuss the fact that trees provide us with oxygen and we provide them with carbon dioxide. God has created a clever system!

Science/Nature: After reading, A Tree Is a Plant (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science) by Clyde Robert Bulla, have children draw and color what a tree would look like in all four seasons.

Science/Nature: After reading to the children, Why Do Leaves Change Color? (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 2) by Betsy Maestro, see if they can explain to you the process of why leaves change color in the fall. Perhaps they can tell you why people call the autumn season "fall" as well? Older children may write the explanation on paper if you like.

Science/Nature: Read the book, Sugaring Timeby Kathryn Lasky and have the older children document the step by step process of creating maple syrup on paper.

Science/Nature: Research the difference between an evergreen tree, deciduous and coniferous trees and write a short report about your findings.

Science/Apologetics/Family Discussion: Discuss the petrified wood theory of a million years and the creationists theory of a young earth. Read linked article aloud to family and discuss the information.

Bible/Penmanship: Copy in your best writing some Bible verses about trees.  Be sure to include the proper punctuation.

Bible Discussion: Read together the passages in the Bible where it talks about human beings producing fruit (John 15:5-8) and discuss the spiritual meaning and physical meaning. This would be a good time to talk about pruning (spiritually and physically). Have your children prepare a "Fruits of the Spirit" list (Galatians 5:22). 

Language Arts: Copy the following poem, making sure to pay attention to punctuation:

The Tree by Sarah Coleridge

The Oak is called the king of trees,
The Aspen quivers in the breeze,
The Poplar grows up straight and tall,
The Peach tree spreads along the wall,
The Sycamore gives pleasant shade,
The Willow droops in watery glade,
The Fir tree useful in timber gives,
The Beech amid the forest lives.

Thinking Skills: Have older children alphabetize the trees mentioned in the poem above.

Grammar: See if the children can point out the nouns, verbs and adjectives in the poem above. Each child can do one line and so on until the poem is complete.

History: Read a biography about Johnny Appleseed and do a short report on his life. Did you know he was a God-fearing man?

Research: After reading the book, Be a Friend to Trees (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out, Stage 2) by Patricia Lauber, have children create a list of  products that come from a tree. Older children can use an encyclopedia to see if they can come up with more ideas to add.

Family/Science Project: Plant a tree in your back yard. Research what your tree needs to flourish and make sure you plant accordingly. 
Family History Project: Create a family tree and see how much your children know about their roots!  This would be a great time to share some special stories of their ancestors.
Geography: Look up your state tree in an encyclopedia and do a report on it.

Discuss Tree Terms: Barking up the wrong tree, branching out... (See what others you can come up with and make a list.)

Home Economics/Math: Make an apple pie and have the children measure and weigh out the apples and ingredients. Have children "double" the recipe and make two (you can place the extra in the freezer or give away as a homeschool gift).

Physical Education: Go climb a tree! (At your own discretion…)
Almond Branches in Blossom by Vincent Van Gogh
Art History/Picture Study: Do a picture study on the painting "Almond Branches in Blossom" by Vincent Van Gogh and have the children observe it for a week and then write an "art review" on it. Did they like it? What mood did it put them in?  What season do they think is taking place in the picture? Do they realize that the painter is Dutch? Can they find Holland on the globe or map? The artist painted this picture as a gift for his brother Theo after they had a son whom they named Vincent (explaining extra information about art and artists will help them to retain information better). Include a print out of the painting on the "art review" page and place into their scrapbooks.

  • Do some iron on leaf crafts (When you have them completed, punch holes through the top of each leaf; run yarn or ribbon through the holes and make a leaf garland for your fireplace mantle or any other place in the house to give some autumn flavor to your home.)
  • Decorate your hearth or windows with a pinecone banner. Using this clip art from the Graphics Fairy, have each child color a few "cones" and attach to string and hang as a garland. You may want to decorate with some brown glitter as well. 
Foreign Language: Memorize how to say "tree" in the foreign language you are studying.

Field Trip: Visit a local arboretum (a botanical garden devoted to trees).

Suggested Movies:
  • God's Power Plants Video by Moody Science (Children will love this video about plants and how special God made them.) (I don't think it's out on DVD but if you have a VHS player you will be glad to add this to your library or you may find it at your local library to rent.)
  • My Side of the Mountain DVD (based on the book by Jean Craighead George)

This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2sdaysTitus 2 TuesdaysTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadFrom the Farm Blog HopFront Porch Friday Blog HopAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou FridaySimply Natural Saturdays and Clever Chicks Blog Hop. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these.


  1. Really interesting unit study! Stopping by via the Raising Homemakers Link-Up. :-)

    Love and blessings,


  2. Thank you for your hard work in getting this unit study all together for us! I think this is just what I need to put some enthusiasm into my reluctant learners.
    This is my first year homeschooling, I have a 2nd grader, kindergartener, and pre-kindergartener. Needless to say it has been a rough start, but I am going to start using some of the awesome things you have on this blog! Thank you so much!

    1. OH, you will LOVE unit studies! May I recommend the APPLE unit study for the ages you have on hand (perfect for fall too)? If you ever have any questions, don't hesitate to ask… Homeschooling is a blast when you ditch the public school program and enjoy learning together :)

  3. This is just fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing it! I think my kids will just love it!

    1. We really enjoyed this study! I hope your family does too :) Let me know how it goes if you decide to do it!

  4. Thank you so much for providing this unit study! We have had a rough winter in Chicago, and I am thrilled to finally be able to get outside and do nature study. I really appreciate you sharing your information with us to use!!! God bless you for your generosity.

    1. You are most welcome! Thank you for taking the time to comment and enjoy the study!!