Tree Unit Resources, Games, and Activities

This is a list of resources and activities that we used for our Tree Unit for Grade 3.  You can find affiliate links throughout the post or all the available resources HERE on my storefront. Though I appreciate your support, you may find cheaper prices on used books at or on new resources at Rainbow Resources.


20200414185912_IMG_1906DK’s The Magic and Mystery of Trees by Jen Green

This book as well as The Tree Book are must haves for a Tree Unit. DK is the first to incorporate the newest science explained in the adult book, The Hidden Life of Trees, incorporating a tree’s senses and defenses into the book in addition to the anatomy and identification facts that I’ve seen.  It also has a lovely map in the beginning of where trees grow.  This is definitely a comprehensive book to savor and enjoy, lingering over the beautiful illustrations and exploring the facts at leisure.  I would suggest reading this one over a few sittings, not at one time unless you just can’t put it down, which just might happen.

The Tree Book: for Kids and their Grown-Ups by Gina Ingoglia.

20200414185851_IMG_1904The beginning of this book is filled with great information about trees, photosynthesis, why leaves change color and more.  It goes over the leaf type, arrangement, and shape used to identify trees, as well as buds, bark, flower, fruits, and cones.  The rest of the book is a tree guide including a number of trees within the United States.  The information at the beginning of this book alone makes it worth owning.  A great resource.

Native Trees of the Southeast: An Identification Guide by Kirkman, Brown and Leopold

20200414190034_IMG_1910This is my favorite adult guide for tree identification in the Southeast.  The pictures are lovely; the information clear and user friendly; it contains an actual key; and it also contains detailed information on leaf type, shape, arrangement and margins as well as bud and flower information in the beginning of the book.  This was my go to source for this kind of information.  While Nature Anatomy, The Tree Book, andThe Magic and Mystery of Trees all have some information on this, this book has comprehensive information in a clear manner in one area, making it easier for me to explain what we were looking for.  We did not necessarily use this book for copying our anatomy pictures. However, it was my source for knowing what we would study, and what I was looking for in the other books.

Fun with Nature’s Take-along Guide: Trees, Leaves, and Bark by Diane Burns

20200414190009_IMG_1909This is a fun identification guide for children. While the information on trees or how to identify them is minimal, the guide itself is lovely and the trees contained fall into a wide range and are general enough that you are likely to find several in your area.  It includes information such as leaves description, bark, and seed description for each tree entry.  They also have some fun facts for each tree and a couple of activities suited for small children. This is likely to be a child’s favorite.  This series is a great series.

Put on your Owl Eyes: Open you Senses and Discover Nature’s Secrets by Davin Franklin

20200414185953_IMG_1908This book is written for children with the information contained in the books What the Robin Knows by Jon Young and How to Raise a Wild Child by Scott Sampson. (Both of these are worth putting on your must-read list for yourself.)  It has mapping, tracking, and journaling activities for learning about the natural world.  It talks about finding a sit spot to observe and notice nature.  Though the information about trees is limited to only a chapter in this book, the book itself is a gem, and those few pages are worthwhile.  It goes over a simple review of leaf shape, arrangement, and margins, as well as plants to avoid. It has several essays about trees written by children that are lovely, and the beautiful sensory journaling/writing activity that we did described below.

Natural World by Wood and Jolley

This book is a favorite, though there are only a couple of pages on trees.  The information and illustrations are amazing. Though this book would be a treasured gem in your library collection, its information specific to trees is limited and is also contained in the previous books mentioned.

A Child’s Introduction to Natural History by Heather Alexander

This book is presented more from a science perspective and less from a naturalist expression.  It does, however, go over Forest information and talk about what makes a coniferous, deciduous, and tropical forest.  We read through this information and reviewed our biome map (available in a free download) that went with the book  The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth when doing our geography projects for this unit.  This is another that can be passed by or just checked out from the library as the pages for trees are very limited.

Maps by Mizielinski and Mizielinski and The 50 Statesby Gabrielle Blakan

20200414130158_IMG_1894These books are our resource books used when we incorporate geography into our unit. They are open on our book stand(which we love and use daily) while she is doing her maps



Match a Tree Game

20200414190241_IMG_1912This is a lovely game, and the pictures on the cards are absolutely gorgeous.  The trees contained in this game are from around the world and pair nicely with the information from The Magic and Mystery of Trees. The cards are sturdy, thick and high quality, so they are likely to last.  We played match with these set, but you could easily play go fish or perhaps rummy as well.


Who am I? Tree Game

20200414185541_IMG_1900This is a game that I developed to use the information that we studied on tree type, leaf type, arrangement, shape, and margins. It was developed to use the information that we had learned, and was well received. It’s an elimination game similar to 20 questions but with trees.  It is part of my Tree Unit Curriculum.  These trees are indigenous to the Southeastern US.  The information in this game comes directly from the field guide Native Trees of the Southeast: An Identification Guide.   

Science Alberta Foundations Online Game

This game teaches how to read the cross section of a tree trunk.  It’s a fun educational game that does require Adobe flash which you may have to activate in order to play. It’s short and simple, but educational and fun.  You can find it HERE.


Main Lesson Book

IMG_20200403_155410134For her main lesson book or notebook she kept for her unit contained the following:

  • Map of Tree distribution across the world
  • Anatomy of a Tree
  • Leaf types, arrangements, and shape
  • Her chromatography experiment
  • Watercolor of a fall leaf (Let’s Make Art)
  • Narration about trees
  • Graphs from her math work
  • Various trees of her choosing with distribution map, leaf print, bark rubbing and information about the tree


Incorporating Geography

We incorporated geography in this unit in three ways.  The first was to map the distribution of trees in general over the world, which did surprise me, and prompted us to visit her biome map we did from our mapping unit earlier in the year.  I used a map I found on the web for this. We used our Maps book as a resource to talk about the continents and countries while painting and labeling this map. You can find pictures and videos of the work in the highlights of “Trees” on my Instagram page @beauty_of_play. The second way was to fill the distribution maps for each of the trees she entered into our notebook. I printed several small blank US maps that she outlines and colored the distribution area for each tree she entered into her notebook. The reference book The 50 States was used during this project. A map of trees around your property or community would also be a nice addition.

Incorporating Poetry

I researched and found several poems about trees that we used for poetry tea time (Brave writer.) She also chose one poem to memorize and recite during this unit.

Incorporating Science

After reading why leaves change color from several books listed above, we did a chromatography experiment on colors found in leaves.

Incorporating Art

  • Several art experiments were done for this unit including
  • water coloring an autumn leaf (Let’s Make Art)
  • drawing and labeling a trees anatomy (from Nature Anatomy)
  • drawing and painting the leaf types, arrangement , and shapes into her notebook,
  • Leaf prints (which allowed her to quickly enter several trees into her notebook,) you can find a tutorial HERE.
  • Bark rubbings.

Incorporating Math

We did several math projects related to our trees and I’ve added a couple of additional ones that could be added.

  • Measure the circumference of various trees and make a bar graph
  • Count the various types of trees on a nature walk and graph them
  • Use a triangle to measure a tree’s height. If using a right triangle with equal sides, keeping the bottom edge level to the ground and the upper edge parallel to your body, walk away from the tree until the tip of the triangle looks as if it reaches the top of the tree.  At this point the distance from the tree will be equal to the height of the tree.

Incorporating Writing

For writing we did the sensory exercise found in Put your Owl Eyes on.  She went into a tree for 5 to 10 minutes and then came back and described her experience which I wrote down for her. I typed her narration and cut out the sentences.  The following day she arranged the sentences in a new order that suited her. We did a sentence expansion exercise by choosing at random a couple of conjunctions from her language arts unit earlier in the year.  We placed these conjunctions at the end of a couple of sentences of her choice and she created the rest of the sentence after the conjunctions.  We had also spoken about similes earlier from our poetry time, so I encouraged her to make a simile to add to her work. I then typed up her new work, a sentence on each line, and she arranged them the next day as she wanted them.  I then typed up the final that will go into her notebook.  These techniques are a combination of Brave writer, Rooted in Language, and The Writing Revolution.  This process is similar for her narrations.  Sometime copy work is based on narrations, and sometimes it is pulled from a book or a poem.



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