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Age Range: 5-7
Duration: 30-59 mins
  • Science

How Do Deciduous Trees Change?

Describing how a deciduous tree changes over a year

This fun science activity for kids will teach students how deciduous trees change across the seasons. Students will then have the opportunity to track and record how an individual tree changes over the period of a year.

Trees and their leaves are an important part of our natural environment. Can you use your science knowledge to better understand them and the environment around us?

Activity: How Do Deciduous Trees Change?

In this activity learners will be shown how a deciduous tree changes across the seasons, then either as a class or individually recording how an individual tree changes over the school year.

This activity is inspired by Greek mythology. A dryad is a mythical Greek creature, often associated with forests. They are said to be female nymphs who inhabit trees or woods and protect them from harm. Dryads have been featured in many stories throughout history, and they often symbolize the beauty and power of nature.

This activity could be introduced as part of a main lesson activity at the start of the new year. It could then be followed up on a weekly (or periodic) basis over the year, with learners building up a record of how the identified tree within the school grounds changes over time. This could be used either to create a diary, a logbook, or it could form the basis for a classroom display.

This is a long-term activity which can run for the duration of the school year. Following an initial introduction, individual learners or table groupings could be responsible for completing the diary on a weekly basis. If carried out by individuals, different learners could be allocated the responsibility each week, progressing through the class register.

An appropriate tree within the school grounds needs to be identified. Ideally a tree visible from the classroom would be used. As applicable by local requirements, risk assessments may need to be carried out if the learners need to go outside the school building to carry out this activity. For continuity it is advantageous to have a set position from which the picture or observations are made.

What is the difference between deciduous and evergreen trees?

Deciduous trees lose their leaves in autumn. Evergreen trees, on the other hand, keep their needles (or pines) all year. As a result they normally grow much faster than deciduous trees – an evergreen tree might reach full size in 30 years, where a deciduous tree might need 100 years!

Deciduous and evergreen are the terms used in the national curriculum, but some learners may find hardwood and softwood easier. Hardwoods come from deciduous trees and softwoods come from evergreen/coniferous trees. These terms are just types of wood and not the properties of the wood – hardwoods are not necessarily hard (balsa is soft enough that it can be marked using a thumbnail) and softwoods are not necessarily soft (parana pine is used to make wooden stairs).

Tools/resources required

  • Projector
  • Copies of the How do deciduous trees change handout
  • Digital cameras (if required) with access to suitable printing facilities

The engineering context

Environmental engineers are tasked with improving the quality of the natural environment around them. The more they understand about this, the better they can do their jobs.

Suggested learning outcomes

By the end of this activity students will be able to describe how a deciduous tree changes with the seasons.

Download the free How Do Deciduous Trees Change? activity sheet below!

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.

The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved UK nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Please share your classroom learning highlights with us @IETeducation.

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