Do You Know 6 Trees?
From the Newsletter Archives (February 2017)
“Children should also become familiar with trees at an early age. They should pick about six in the winter when the leaves are gone, perhaps an elm, a maple, a beech, etc., and watch them during the year.”
Charlotte Mason, volume 1, page 52
Winter has arrived for most of us and with this season comes the challenge of getting outside to look for things to observe with our children. The trees that are covered in leaves in the summer are now barren and leafless. For many years this was a time that I was unable to determine a tree’s identification. But now with fresh eyes, I have learned to distinguish individual trees by their silhouettes. Each tree has a distinct pattern of growing that makes it even easier to identify during the winter months.
Many of us are surprised to learn that a tree in the thick of winter is not really lifeless. It may appear at first glance to be uninteresting in its winter state. Don’t be fooled! There are many things that we can discover about a tree during this barren season.
- Start with the tree’s trunk and branches. Stand back and take a good look at the way it grows and where the branches are located. Look at the way each branch grows: up, out, curved, straight?
- Look at the bark on the tree trunk and try to determine its color, texture, and any distinguishing marks or patterns.
- Look at the tree’s outline against the winter sky.
- Look at the tree’s buds. These will be at the tips of the twigs or branches. If all you do is make note of the size, shape, and color of the buds, you’ll have some valuable information about the tree.
Can you distinguish the difference between neighborhood trees? Start with just two trees and try to make as many comparisons as you can just focusing on the tree silhouette, tree bark, and buds.
When you get home, pull out your tree guide and see if you can use the information you observed to identify your trees. As time goes by, work your way up to six trees as suggested by Charlotte Mason. This can be a long term project that you tackle every winter.
Journey and Ultimate Naturalist Library members have a 6 Trees Project notebook page printable in their libraries. In this simple ongoing project, your child should observe and photograph six different trees and use the notebook pages as a follow up with facts and photos.
This activity was originally published in the February 2017 newsletter. You can find all of the archived newsletters in your member’s library.
Please note these are Amazon affiliate links to books that I have purchased and used with my family. They are very helpful for any winter tree studies.