Tree at My Window Activity
The trees, shrubs and flowers that grow in your yard are not only nice to look at and fun to have around; they provide a lot of added benefits you have probably never even considered. Today is the day you find out.
Science, English Language Arts, History, Research
Elementary, Middle and High School
30 to 90 minutes
-notebook or paper for jotting notes and making sketches
-pencil, phone for taking photos (not required), computer for looking up information
To observe, describe, catalog and learn about the trees in your yard or neighborhood.
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Franklin Roosevelt loved trees, once saying, “There is nothing I love in nature so much as trees.” His favorite was the Tulip Poplar. He had many of these and other varieties of trees planted on his estate in Hyde Park, NY.
During his presidency (1933-1945) FDR created the Civilian Conservation Corps, known to most people simply as the CCC. The CCC was responsible for the planting of more that 2 billion trees, mostly in the middle section of the country! Roosevelt understood that beyond their sheer beauty, trees provided shade, kept soil from eroding, provided protection from the wind and helped purify the air. These were very important to help restore and protect the soil from damage done by the years of drought during the Dust Bowl.
- Find a notebook or some paper and a pencil for taking notes.
- Go into your yard and observe the trees, shrubs, and flowers that you find.
- Draw a rough map of your yard showing the location of your house and the trees, shrubs, and flowers you’d like to study.
- For each plant, make a careful study and begin to jot down notes and sketches. Make sure to include information about the location of the plant, and the dates and time you are making your observations.
- How tall is the plant?
- How wide?
- What shape is it?
- What color is the trunk?
- What type of bark does it have?
- What size and shape are the leaves?
- Does it appear to prefer sun or shade?
- What other interesting traits or characteristics does it have?
- If you have access to a phone or camera, you may want to snap some pictures.
- Repeat this process for the other plants you’ve selected in your yard.
- Using the information you collected in your field operations, search the internet to locate information about the plants.
- Can you find their common and scientific names?
- Are they native to your area or have they been introduced from somewhere else?
- How long are their life spans?
- Other than being ornamental, do these plants have any other uses?
- What other information can you find?
- Now that you are an expert on the plants and trees in your yard, why not arrange a tour so you can share the information with the rest of your family?
- How did the trees get there?
- Do they produce flowers or fruit?
- What do their seeds look like?
- How long have they been there?
- What bugs or animals might depend on these trees for food or shelter?
A Step Beyond:
- Research the CCC...
- Who worked for the CCC?
- How much money were they paid?
- In what states did the CCC plant trees?
- Are the trees they planted still there?
- Research the Dust Bowl…
- When did the Dust Bowl begin and how long did it last?
- What caused the Dust Bowl?
- How did people respond to the Dust Bowl?
- How did the Government respond to the Dust Bowl?
- The title of this activity comes from a poem written by Robert Frost. Locate that poem…
- How does Robert Frost feel about the ‘tree at his window?’
- What experiences do Frost and the tree share?
- When was the poem written?
- What other poems is Frost famous for having written?