Grow a tropical tree.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

From a tiny seed can grow an enormous tree. How does it happen? These fun tree activities for kids will reveal the many mysteries hidden in seeds and trees. They'll also remind you how important nature's giants really are.

Trees, like all other plants, need sunlight and carbon dioxide to make their own food. In the process, trees take carbon dioxide from the air and put back oxygen for us all to breathe.

Follow the links below to find tons of exciting, educational tree activities for kids and the whole family. Get outdoors to enjoy the wonders of trees!

Adopt a Tree

Choose your favorite tree and journal its life and growth for the year.

Neighborhood Tree Guide

Make your own field guide of pictures, descriptions, and information about the trees on your block.

True Poetree

Emulate Robert Frost and write an ode to your beautiful wooded friends.

Know Your State Tree

Research your official state tree and find it in nature.

Homemade Maple Syrup

Tap a maple tree to make homemade syrup for a special family breakfast.

Forced Winter Blooms

Bloom winter cherry and pussy willow twigs indoors to enjoy an early spring.

Grow a Tropical Tree

Learn how to grow a mango, papaya, or pomegranate tree from a simple seed.

Tree Fact Finding

Read books about trees and see how many interesting tree facts you can learn.

Tree Story Book

Craft a book of photos, rubbings, and leaves from your child's favorite tree.

Ready to embark on a study of trees with your family? Start by adopting a neighborhood tree in the next section of tree activities for kids.

For more fun nature crafts and kids' activities, check out:

Adopt a Tree

Adopt a tree to study.
Adopt a tree to study.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

In this adopt-a-tree activity, your kids will choose a local tree to study and journal for a whole year. They'll discover that just like people, each tree grows and changes in its own way.

What You'll Need:

  • Notebook
  • Pen or marker
  • Camera (optional)

How to Adopt a Tree:Step 1: Pick a tree that you would like to study for one year. It should be a tree that you'll be able to visit at least once a month. Get a notebook that you can use to make a diary of the tree's life for the year.Step 2: To begin, identify what kind of tree it is. Look closely at the tree's bark, leaves, any fruits or nuts, etc. Use a camera to take a picture of the tree, or draw its picture.Step 3: For the next year, visit the tree at least once a month. Each time you visit, make notes in the diary about what is happening in the life of the tree. Can you see signs of growth? Does the tree lose its leaves in winter? Does it produce flowers, berries, seed pods, or nuts? Does the tree ever show signs of stress, such as wilting leaves from lack of rain or damage from frost? Do animals make homes in your tree? Step 4: Add a new picture of the tree each time you visit, too. At the end of the year, you'll have a complete report of your tree's life and growth.Keep reading tree activities for kids to learn how you can create a field guide to the different trees that grow in your area.

For more fun nature crafts and kids' activities, check out:

Neighborhood Tree Guide

Your family walks by trees in the neighborhood every day. Learn all about them by studying and creating your own neighborhood tree guide.

What You'll Need:

  • Field guide to trees
  • Notebook
  • Pen or marker

How to Make a Neighborhood Tree Guide:Step 1: At the library, check out a field guide to trees that grow in your area. It will have pictures, descriptions, and information about each kind of tree. Step 2: Take the field guide out into your neighborhood, and see how many of the trees you can find. Learn the name of each tree. Step 3: Pay attention to what kind of leaves, seeds, and bark each tree has. Which trees have flowers, fruits, or nuts? Which trees are home to animals?Step 4: As the seasons change, keep a record of which trees' leaves change color and fall off, and which trees are the first to leaf out in the spring. Step 5: Make your own field guide to trees in your neighborhood. Your guide could include the name of each tree, a drawing, a leaf from the tree (or tracing of a leaf), information about the tree, and details of where in the neighborhood each kind of tree can be found.Are your kids inspired by nature's beautiful giants? Encourage them to write a poem about their favorite trees next in tree activities for kids.For more fun nature crafts and kids' activities, check out:

How to Make a Neighborhood Tree Guide:Step 1: At the library, check out a field guide to trees that grow in your area. It will have pictures, descriptions, and information about each kind of tree. Step 2: Take the field guide out into your neighborhood, and see how many of the trees you can find. Learn the name of each tree. Step 3: Pay attention to what kind of leaves, seeds, and bark each tree has. Which trees have flowers, fruits, or nuts? Which trees are home to animals?Step 4: As the seasons change, keep a record of which trees' leaves change color and fall off, and which trees are the first to leaf out in the spring. Step 5: Make your own field guide to trees in your neighborhood. Your guide could include the name of each tree, a drawing, a leaf from the tree (or tracing of a leaf), information about the tree, and details of where in the neighborhood each kind of tree can be found.Are your kids inspired by nature's beautiful giants? Encourage them to write a poem about their favorite trees next in tree activities for kids.For more fun nature crafts and kids' activities, check out:

True Poetree

To create "true poetree," your kids will write a poem in praise of their wooded friends. Trees have always been a favorite subject of poets. Here is part of a poem that Robert Frost wrote about birch trees:

When I see birches bend to left and right

Across the lines of straighter darker trees,

I like to think some boy's been swinging them.

But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay

As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them

Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning

After a rain....

-- From "Birches"

What You'll Need:

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Markers (optional)

How to Make True Poetree:

Step 1: Try writing your own poem about a tree. It could be a tree you planted, or a tree you like to swing in, or even a tree in your imagination.

Your poem can rhyme, or not -- it's up to you!

Step 2: If you like, draw a picture of the tree to go with your poem.

Do you know your official state tree? Keep reading to learn.

For more fun nature crafts and kids' activities, check out:

Know Your State Tree

Get to know your state tree.
Get to know your state tree.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Do you know your state tree? Every state has an official tree. In this activity, your kids will find their state tree and learn all about it.

What You'll Need:

  • Almanac or encyclopedia
  • Field guide to trees
  • Paper and pen (optional)

Get to Know Your State Tree:

Step 1: Look up your state in the list below to find out what your state tree is.

Step 2: Look up the tree in an encyclopedia or field guide to read about it. Why do you think the tree was chosen?

Step 3: If you want, you can even write a story about your state tree.

Step 4: See if you can find your state tree in nature.

List of State Trees

Alabama: Southern Pine

Alaska: Sitka spruce

Arizona: Paloverde

Arkansas: Pine

California: California Redwood

Colorado: Colorado Blue Spruce

Connecticut: White Oak

Delaware: American Holly

District of Columbia: Scarlet Oak

Florida: Sabal Palmetto Palm

Georgia: Live Oak

Hawaii: Kukui (Candlenut)

Idaho: White Pine

Illinois: White Oak

Indiana: Tulip Poplar

Iowa: Oak

Kansas: Cottonwood

Kentucky: Tulip Poplar

Louisiana: Cypress

Maine: Eastern White Pine

Maryland: White Oak

Massachusetts: American Elm

Michigan: White Pine

Minnesota: Red Pine

Mississippi: Magnolia

Missouri: Dogwood

Montana: Ponderosa Pine

Nebraska: Cottonwood

Nevada: Single-Leaf Piñon and Bristlecone Pine

New Hampshire: White Birch

New Jersey: Red Oak

New Mexico: Piñon

New York: Sugar Maple

North Carolina: Pine

North Dakota: American Elm

Ohio: Buckeye

Oklahoma: Redbud

Oregon: Douglas Fir

Pennsylvania: Hemlock

Rhode Island: Red Maple

South Carolina: Palmetto

South Dakota: Black Hills Spruce

Tennessee: Tulip Poplar

Texas: Pecan

Utah: Blue Spruce

Vermont: Sugar Maple

Virginia: Dogwood

Washington: Western Hemlock

West Virginia: Sugar Maple

Wisconsin: Sugar Maple

Wyoming: Cottonwood

Are there maple trees growing in your area? Learn how to tap one to make homemade maple syrup in the next section of tree activities for kids.

For more fun nature crafts and kids' activities, check out:

Homemade Maple Syrup

Tap your own homemade maple syrup.
Tap your own homemade maple syrup.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Homemade maple syrup is a delicious treat straight from nature. Tap a maple tree and make your own for a very special family breakfast.

What You'll Need:

  • Maple tree
  • Drill with 1/2-inch bit
  • Small tube or pipe
  • Bucket
  • Hammer and nail
  • Pot
  • Aluminum foil
  • Butter
  • Candy thermometer

How to Make Homemade Maple Syrup:Step 1: On an early spring day, go out searching for maple trees. If the tree you find is on private property, ask for permission to tap one. Step 2: Drill a hole two inches deep into the south-facing side of the tree. Drill the hole so that it slants upward into the tree slightly.Step 3: Push a piece of tubing or pipe into the hole. Hammer a nail into the tree just above the hole. Hang a bucket on the nail to catch the sap that will drip from the tubing. Step 4: Cover the bucket with aluminum foil. (This should keep out any dust and dirt.) Keep in mind, it may take a few hours or longer to gather a gallon of sap.Step 5: When you have about a gallon of sap, remove the tubing and nail from the tree. Take the sap home and put it in a very large pot. Step 6: Bring the sap to a boil. Much of it must be evaporated to make the syrup. Add a pat of butter to keep the sap from boiling over. Step 7: Use a candy thermometer to check the sap's temperature. When it reaches 219 degrees Fahrenheit, it's done. Strain the syrup, let it cool, and serve!

Keep reading to learn how your kids can make spring arrive early with forced winter blooms.

For more fun nature crafts and kids' activities, check out:

Forced Winter Blooms

"Forcing" is the technique used to make winter twigs bloom indoors. Try this forced winter blooms activity with your kids and enjoy an early spring!

What You'll Need:

  • Winter twigs in bud, cut from flowering shrubs or trees
  • Clippers
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Wide-mouthed vase

How to Force Winter Blooms:Step 1: Check shrubs in your yard for flower buds that are just beginning to swell. Forsythia, flowering plum, flowering cherry, or pussy willows work well for this. Step 2: Cut branches about two feet long or longer if you can. Put the branches in a bucket of water right away and bring them indoors. Step 3: Find a large vase with a wide mouth and fill it with water. For longest-lasting branches, put the cut end of the branch in the vase, and, holding it under the water, cut an inch off of the end. Step 4: Leave your vase in a sunny window. In a week or two the twigs will burst out into blossoms.Keep reading to learn how your kids can grow a tropical tree from the fruit pit of a mango, papaya, or pomegranate.For more fun nature crafts and kids' activities, check out:

How to Force Winter Blooms:Step 1: Check shrubs in your yard for flower buds that are just beginning to swell. Forsythia, flowering plum, flowering cherry, or pussy willows work well for this. Step 2: Cut branches about two feet long or longer if you can. Put the branches in a bucket of water right away and bring them indoors. Step 3: Find a large vase with a wide mouth and fill it with water. For longest-lasting branches, put the cut end of the branch in the vase, and, holding it under the water, cut an inch off of the end. Step 4: Leave your vase in a sunny window. In a week or two the twigs will burst out into blossoms.Keep reading to learn how your kids can grow a tropical tree from the fruit pit of a mango, papaya, or pomegranate.For more fun nature crafts and kids' activities, check out:

Grow a Tropical Tree

Grow a tropical tree.
Grow a tropical tree.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Enjoy a mango, papaya, or pomegranate. Then grow the tropical tree it comes from!

What You'll Need:

  • Tropical fruit pits (from mango) or seeds (from papaya or pomegranate)
  • Knife
  • Vegetable brush
  • Potting soil
  • Flower pots
  • Water
  • Plastic wrap

How to Grow a Tropical Tree:Tropical fruit plants are fun to grow, but it takes lots of patience. Getting them to sprout is the hardest part.MangoStep 1: Begin with a very ripe mango. Cut the pit from the fruit and clean it with a vegetable brush under running water. Step 2: Plant the flat pit in potting soil with one edge up. Cover it completely. Keep it watered, and wait a long time. Mangoes may take three months to sprout. About one out of four will not sprout at all. Step 3: Keep the plants in a humid room and away from cold windows. Once every few months, allow the soil to go completely dry.Papaya

How to Grow a Tropical Tree:Tropical fruit plants are fun to grow, but it takes lots of patience. Getting them to sprout is the hardest part.MangoStep 1: Begin with a very ripe mango. Cut the pit from the fruit and clean it with a vegetable brush under running water. Step 2: Plant the flat pit in potting soil with one edge up. Cover it completely. Keep it watered, and wait a long time. Mangoes may take three months to sprout. About one out of four will not sprout at all. Step 3: Keep the plants in a humid room and away from cold windows. Once every few months, allow the soil to go completely dry.Papaya

Step 1: Cut the fruit open and remove the small seeds from their fleshy coating (called an aril).

Step 2: Line the bottom of a flat dish with wet paper towels and lay the seeds on it. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place.

Step 3: When the seeds just begin to sprout, rinse them in fresh water and plant in moist potting soil. Keep the seedlings out of direct sunlight until they are about six inches tall.

Pomegranate

Step 1: Prepare and sprout the seeds as you did for papayas.

Step 2: Pomegranates are desert plants, so keep them in a dry room.

How well do you know your trees? Take your kids on a tree fact-finding mission in the next section of tree activities for kids.

For more fun nature crafts and kids' activities, check out:

Tree Fact-Finding

In this tree fact-finding activity, your kids will read books -- created from trees and written about them -- and find out all sorts of information. Trees have a variety of uses in our environment.

Trees can be used for fun, as well as shelter. Where do you think tree houses come from?

Did you know the oldest living tree -- a 4,700-year-old pine tree in California -- is named "Methuselah"? Or that in Arizona there's a forest of "petrified" trees that are actually 200-million-year-old fossils?

What You'll Need:

  • One or more books about trees
  • Pen
  • Paper

How to Learn Tree Facts:Step 1: Find a book about trees that interests your children. They might enjoy learning about acorns, leaves, or the paper-making process. Step 2: Afterwards, ask them to write a story about what they discovered.Have your kids discovered a favorite tree? Learn how to craft a tree story book filled with photos, rubbings, and leaves in the next section of tree activities for kids.For more fun nature crafts and kids' activities, check out:

How to Learn Tree Facts:Step 1: Find a book about trees that interests your children. They might enjoy learning about acorns, leaves, or the paper-making process. Step 2: Afterwards, ask them to write a story about what they discovered.Have your kids discovered a favorite tree? Learn how to craft a tree story book filled with photos, rubbings, and leaves in the next section of tree activities for kids.For more fun nature crafts and kids' activities, check out:

Tree Story Book

Make your own tree story books to help kids learn about trees. Make one book for each kind of tree they're interested in.

What You'll Need:

  • White paper
  • 9" x 12" colored construction paper
  • Stapler
  • Pencil or pen
  • Glue
  • Tree identification book
  • Crayons

How to Make a Tree Story Book:

Step 1: Fold two sheets of white paper in half. Fold the construction paper in half and insert the white paper. Staple together along the spine.

Step 2: Take a photo of the tree (or draw it) and glue the picture to the cover of the book. If you don't know the tree's name, look it up.

Step 3: Hold the first page of the book against the tree's bark. Rub a crayon over the page to make a pattern.

Step 4: Pick a leaf, flatten it, and glue it into your book. If your tree sheds flowers, pick and press one.

Step 5: If your tree loses branches, find a small winter twig. Glue it on the third page. Then use pages four and five to describe what is living in the tree.

For more fun nature crafts and kids' activities, check out:

ABOUT THE ACTIVITY DESIGNERSTree Story Book by Maria Birmingham, Karen E. Bledsoe, and Kelly Milner Halls