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Aleza Lake Research Forest: Learning Resource

Grade 4-5: Tree Identification (Science) - Outdoor



  1. To learn that every tree is unique and there are many different kinds of trees.
  2. To understand that we share an environment with many other plants and animals. 
  3. To start observing the world around us scientifically. 


Today, you are scientists going to meet trees. You will observe and study a tree to see what makes it unique from its physical traits. You will draw your tree and write down what you remember about it so that you can introduce your tree to others and discover its name.


  1. Access to the outdoors
  2. Drawing paper and something to put your paper on so you can draw and write outside. 
  3. Pencils, crayons, or coloured markers. 
  4. Bag or box to carry materials in. 
  5. Envelopes for samples.
  6. Be prepared for the weather. This project can be done during class time or as homework home but should be done outside.
  7. Tree Book
  8. Tree Bee Identify a Tree


Pre-Activity Introduction

  1. Have you ever met a tree? 
    1. Share what kinds of trees you have “met.” This includes trees you've seen, played on, watched animals on, etc. 
    2. How do you tell trees apart? 
    3. What are they used for?
  2. How are trees unique?
    1. What are the physical traits of trees (leaves, needles, shapes, size, colour, fruit, nuts, flowers, bark, etc).
    2. How do people use trees? 
    3. How do animals use trees?

PART ONE Activity

*Students can work alone, in pairs, or in groups, at supervisor’s discretion. 

  1. Make observations: Use your eyes to study the whole tree, from top to bottom. Use your eyes like a camera to take snapshots of how tall or short your tree is, what its branches look like, whether it has needles or leaves, and if you can see any animals or their homes.
  2. What are your tree’s physical traits? Is the trunk smooth or rough? Long or short branches? Do the branches point up or down? Leaves or needles? What shape are the leaves or needles and how are they grouped together? Any animals? Are there any flowers, fruit, nuts (NEVER EAT ANY fruits, nuts, or berries off of a tree or bush or the ground)?
    1. Document your observations. 
    2. How are you going to remember what you saw?
    3. Write
    4. Draw pictures 
    5. Take a rubbing of the bark / leaves / needles
    6. Take small samples (nothing large enough to hurt the tree) 
  3. Repeat for a minimum of five trees

Large Group Discussion:

  1. Introduce one or two of your trees to classmates
  2. Share the different characteristics of your trees

PART TWO Activity

  1. Take all of the information you gathered about your tree and go to This website uses a simple interface to allow you to use your detective skills to find out what kinds of trees you are interacting with.
  2. Using the information that you wrote down, drew pictures of, and remember, answer the multiple choice questions to find out what kind of trees you met and what their real names are.
  3. Try to identify as many trees as possible, but do a minimum of five. 
  4. Look up your trees in the Tree Book. How have humans used this tree?
  5. To learn more, you could do the following things:
    1. As a class, create an exhibit of all the trees found
    2. Visit the Aleza Lake Field Education Centre to see what trees live out in the research forest

This activity was adapted from a website called “Reach Out Michigan” that supports environmental learning at a young age, found at the following web address: