Easy Nature Activities for Kids

Count the Tree Rings

Count a tree's rings.
Count a tree's rings.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Count the tree rings as an easy way to figure out a tree's age. Ever wonder how old a really big tree is? Try this method with a tree that has been cut down, and you'll get an idea of how long trees live -- and how they respond to years of good or bad weather.

What You'll Need:

  • Cross-section of wood showing tree rings
  • Sandpaper

Step 1: Find a tree that has been cut down.

Step 2: Use sandpaper to sand the surface of the stump until it is very smooth. You'll be able to see the rings.

Step 3: Start at the center of the stump, and count the rings.

Each set of light and dark lines counts as one ring. Each ring stands for one year in the tree's life. How old was the tree?

Notice that some of the rings are wider than others. Wide rings show years when the tree grew a lot. Narrow rings show years when the tree grew less. Can you think of reasons why the tree might have grown more in some years than in others?

Keep reading to find out how you can explore the hidden living world inside a hollow log.

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