Early Years Primary Primary Science

National Tree Week – KS1

It’s National Tree Week and it’s a great time to get younger pupils involved in studying trees to gain a better understanding of the role they play in the world. We’re keeping it simple but the activities we’ve planned for you to get young pupils involved and helps them find out more about trees.

Activity One: Plant a Tree for Life

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Suitable for: Rec to Year 3

Learning Focus:

  • To be able to identify with another living thing and care for it
  • To identify the different stages of a tree’s growth and talk about the differences

 

Young children love to be able to have something living to relate to whether it’s a pet or a plant. In this activity, the class will plant trees which they can watch grow as they do and with some interesting questions thrown in along the way.

Contact your local council, the Woodland Trust or the National Trust, or indeed any local conservation organisation. Many of them have tree planting programmes which your class can get involved in. If this is not possible, ask parents to find room in their gardens for a tree to be planted.

You could perhaps do a sponsored event to raise money to buy saplings or start the scheme from scratch by planting acorns, beech masts, horse chestnuts etc.

Your aim is for each pupil to plant their own tree and to have it as a permanent living memento of their lives, revisiting it perhaps when they leave KS1, leave the primary school or when they leave school completely. Make sure that the trees are clearly and permanently marked with their names.

You can pose questions for them to think about . . .

How long will it take for the tree to be taller than them?
How long until they think the tree will match their weight?
Which do they think will live longer, them or the tree?

Activity Two: How Does a Tree Grow?

Suitable for: Rec to Year 3

Learning Focus:

  • To find out whether a plant or tree grows from the base or the tip
  • Be able to collect accurate data to check a hypothesis

 

Ask the children whether they think a plant or tree grows from the tip or from the base. If you look up the question on the internet, no one really seems to have a definitive answer so it’s a good question to test.

Give the pupils a runner bean seed to plant or a sunflower seed and wait until it germinates. When the shoot is about 3 cms long place a thin collar of insulating tape around the base and around the top, just below the tip. Ask them to measure the distance from the base to each and then update their measurements on a weekly basis. Was their hypothesis true?

Activity Three: The Life Cycle of a Tree

Suitable for: Rec to Year 3

Learning Focus:

  • To understand the process that turns a seed into a fully formed tree
  • To be able to complete a life cycle diagram of a tree

 

Using the plant or tree from the previous activities, ask the pupils if they can tell you which stage of its life the plant or tree is at.

Now ask them if they can remember the previous stage in its life and what they think the next stage will be.

Can they tell you what the missing stages are until we have a seed again?

Once you have all the information, ask them to draw the lifecycle of a plant or tree.

Activity Four: Trees Through the Year; Deciduous and Evergreen

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Trees, particularly deciduous ones, are ever changing and regular observation of trees, comparing them to a photograph of the last time they were observed, enables young children to spot changes over time and opens up the opportunity to ask questions to find out what they know about the seasons.

Suitable for: Rec to Year 3

Learning Focus:

  • To understand that trees, especially deciduous ones, undergo changes through the year
  • To be able to describe what causes the changes to a tree through the year

 

Choose a deciduous tree and an evergreen tree which are within easy reach of your classroom. Ask the children to draw them and write a few sentences about what they see. At this time of year, the deciduous tree is likely to have yellow or brown leaves which are already falling off, maybe leaving the branches bare. The evergreen tree will still have its leaves. Take photographs from a distance and also close up to mark the moment. At this time of year, the close up photographs should show dormant buds.

Watch the trees regularly and when there is a significant change, take the class out to observe it again, drawing the tree and writing sentences once more describing its appearance. Almost certainly, there will be little or no change in the evergreen tree.

When you do the exercise again in spring, the pupils will notice the ripe buds bursting into new growth and the bare tree slowly developing a green cloak, through into summer when there will be fresh green leaves and maybe flowers.

At each stage of the activity, ask the pupils if they can think of a reason why the tree changes through the year. By being outside observing it, the pupils are very likely to say that it has something to do with the temperature but also guide them towards the length of the day and the strength of the sun. Ask them why they think the same changes aren’t seen in evergreen trees.

Collins Primary

Collins Primary is the home of innovative learning resources for all stages of primary and early years education. We support thousands of teachers and pupils who are using our award-winning materials every day, and provide what you need to enhance the learning experience with our easy to use and flexible programmes.

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