October 18, 2023
12 Nature Walks (Tree Themed)
An Alveary Resource
Alveary Science lessons include an appendix of ideas for nature study activities and outdoor nature walks, often with a special focus for each term on some aspect of nature. The 12 walks and activities below come from this year’s science lessons and encourage students to particularly notice trees during their weekly walks over the term. Encourage students to sketch, jot down, and discuss observations in their nature notebooks during or after each walk. You'll also find a few of our favorite books on trees below. Enjoy!
- Week 1: Visit a favorite tree or favorite forest and note seasonal changes. Pick a tree as your special study for the next few months. Perhaps you will also find a plant, mushroom, or insect that you would like to study more closely.
- Week 2: Consider going out on a clear evening. Looking to the northern sky, are you able to find the Big Dipper? The Little Dipper? And the Pole Star? What else do you notice?
- Week 3: Observe the rings on a stump in the field or on a tree cookie at a forestry museum exhibit. Can you tell which rings represent different seasons? Are there seasons when the tree seemed to grow well? Seasons when the tree seemed to struggle?
- Week 4: Visit a forest and look for signs of beetle damage. Are there holes, visible tunnels, or frass? If so, how much? What is their position? How many trees seem to be affected? Are they the same kind of tree or different kinds?
- Week 5: Observe a tree that is new to you. Compare its leaves, buds, flowers, or fruit, and bark to a tree that you know. Can you identify this new tree?
- Week 6: Make a quick map of the yard or garden. Choose an insect and color every location on the map where you find this insect. Try making a species map for a few different insects, so that you can compare. Do your chosen insects seem to prefer certain locations?
- Week 7: Notice trees today. Do they have buds, flowers, or full leaves? What birds are visiting them? Try to notice someone new. Perhaps you will notice a flower, bird, or insect that you would like to study more closely.
- Week 8: Survey a portion of forest, wild or urban. A group of 10 or so trees living in the same area is reasonable. Make a brief record of each tree's identifying characteristics (e.g. its name, leaf shape, flower or fruit, etc), its approximate size (e.g. height and/or circumference), and signs of any damage (e.g. holes in the bark, flagging leaves, etc).
- Week 9: Visit a forested location with young trees, such as land that was previously farmed or at the edge of a forest and maintained land. What types of trees are growing here? What do you notice about the floor underneath the trees? How many different birds do you notice? How many different insects? Is your special study tree here?
- Week 10: Visit a forested location with old-growth trees, such as the interior of a state or national park. What types of trees are growing here? What do you notice about the forest floor? How many different birds do you notice? How many different insects? Is your special study tree here?
- Week 11: Consider going out on a clear evening. Looking to the northern sky, are you able to find the Big Dipper? The Little Dipper? And the Pole Star? Is there anything else that you notice this evening?
- Week 12: Revisit your favorite tree. What has changed since your last visit?
"We are trying to open the book of nature to children by the proper key––knowledge, acquaintance by look and name, if not more, with bird and flower and tree."
(Philosophy of Education, Charlotte Mason, p.327-328)
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