Weekend Activity: Identify Trees!

So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
“Birches” by Robert Frost

Spring is the perfect time of year to appreciate the trees! Dr. Jeff Weld, Executive Director of Iowa STEM, authored an article on the ABC’s of parent-kid interaction called “Time to Talk STEM with Your Kids.” We’re taking a cue from his letter-I: “Identify the trees in your yard and neighborhood.”

We went looking for tree identification resources and found an awesome online resource by ISU Outreach and Extension. Check out this link: https://naturalresources.extension.iastate.edu/forestry/iowa_trees/tree_id.html NOTE: There’s a maple leaf that marks START–click there.

When you wear out from your walk, snuggle up with these great tree reads!

My NEW favorite! This nonfiction book from the adult best seller list will change the way you look at forests and trees. Simard studies how trees interact and communicate via microbiology. Not only do trees have a complicated, independent life cycle, but they are also social and interconnected. For example, when a pest attacks one tree, it sends out a message to other trees. Those trees then begin to produce their own defenses, protecting themselves and looking out for one another. Forests have long seemed magical, and now Simard has the science to support that.

A TREE NAMED STEVE by Alan Zweibel and David Catrow

This is a family favorite! You may have a tree like Steve in your yard. If not, you’re going to want to plant one. After the family spares him from the builders, Steve the tree quickly works his way into their lives. He holds their underwear when the dryer breaks down, he’s there for first crushes and heartbreaks, and he soaks up the storm water. The three kids who live there fall in love with this tree, and I’m pretty sure you will, too.

STRETCH TO THE SUN by Carrie Pearson and Susan Swan

Nonfiction you can’t put down! Midwest author Carrie Pearson shares her love of nature through books. This narrative nonfiction picture book is about the tallest tree on earth! Meet the giant coastal redwood that has survived for over 1200 years. Scientists can tell its past and study it in the present. For all of the natural disasters it has faced and survived, people may be its most challenging. But see how tree lovers, including a past president, have come to its rescue. It’s a story of conservation and hope.

THE SECRET TREE by Natalie Standtford

Why love middle grade? It always ends happy! This clever book is about an important neighborhood tree that holds everyone’s secrets. Tucked into a suburban forest, a hallow hole holds notes on which neighbors have written their secrets. Minty and Raymond team up to match the secret to the person and help in anyway they can. It asks the age-old ethical question that we teach kids to sort out in life: Which secrets should be kept versus which secrets should be told?

If you have other great tree books, please let us know. We love when students, parents, librarians, and teachers take over the blog!

To see the rest of Dr. Jeff Weld’s alphabet ideas, please visit the Iowa STEM website: https://iowastem.gov/parent

In addition, there’s a Teachable Moments page that will keep your kids busy all spring! Click: https://iowastem.org/teachablemoment

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