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Teacher's Guide
Unit One: Tree Exercise
Arrow Activity Tasks

Students will:

  • research, observe, and sketch different types of trees and their characteristics.
  • sketch a final tree they feel represents themselves.
  • discover how Dr. Jane chose her tree.
  • complete journal entries explaining why they chose their trees.
Arrow Dr. Jane’s Lesson
Dr. Jane chose to sketch a favorite tree from childhood. She chose the tree because it was a haven when she was feeling sad and a place to read and watch birds when she was happy. Students can view Dr. Jane’s tree and learn more about why she chose to draw it. This may give students ideas if they are having trouble deciding which trees to sketch.

Arrow Duration
  • Part 1 – 40 minutes
  • Part 2 – 40 minutes
Arrow Materials
Arrow Connecting to the Content

People learn about the world through their observations, so the ability to observe accurately is an important skill. Students challenge these skills by researching, observing, and sketching different types of trees. Sketching is made easier with a guide by Clare Walker Leslie, an expert in nature journaling. The guide suggests sketching methods and has ample white space for you and students to practice. The final tree sketches then create a framework for proceeding activities in which students label their trees with their supporters, goals, and mentors.

Arrow Before You Begin
Print out a Tree Sketching Guide for each student.

Arrow Procedure

Part 1: Find Your Tree

  1. Encourage students to choose a tree they feel represents themselves, either an actual tree or one from their imagination. Ask the following questions to get them started.
    • Do you know a tree that has special meaning to you? Is this the tree you want to represent you?
    • In what season will you draw your tree?
    • Is it a shade tree?
    • Is it an evergreen?
    • Does it bear fruit? Is it in bloom?
    • Does it live in a tropical or temperate zone?
  2. Have them view the tree Dr. Jane selected and find out why she chose it.
  3. Ask students to make a list of trees that they like or are important to them.
  4. Have them research the trees on their lists. Direct them to the resource books or to the online resource, Enature. This website allows you to enter common tree names in the search box and view indigenous trees using the ZipGuides feature.
  5. Invite students to research the information below and record it into their Tree Sketching Guides. This information is important because it connects students to the environment and makes their field observations personal and unique. Also, if students decide to continue nature journaling, they can look back at previous entries and may discover connections between characteristics of the trees and the environment.


Part 2: Sketch Your Tree

  1. Take your class outside to a place where they can spend time observing and sketching trees. Use the Tree Sketching Guide to practice sketching. Remind students that they should not be concerned with the artistry of their work. It is the accurateness of their observations that is important.
  2. Using the Tree Sketching Guide, students sketch their final tree – the one they think best represents them. They should imagine the tree’s root structure and sketch it. Remind them to leave enough room around the roots and branches so they can label them with their supporters and aspirations in the proceeding activities.
  3. Students complete their journal entries by writing brief explanations about why they selected their trees.
Arrow Assessment

Have students:

  • explain why they selected their trees.
  • demonstrate accuracy (not artistry) in their drawings to remind them of the importance of being an accurate observer.
  • demonstrate knowledge about the trees they picked (e.g., physical description, leaves, bark, cones, fruit, habitat, range).
Arrow Extensions
  • Does the type of tree you chose support different types of animals and insects or humans? – Students can see how one tree can have an effect on many things.
Arrow Terms
  • Blind Contour – A sketch that is drawn using one continuous line without looking at the paper.
  • Canopy – The outline of a tree’s shape, comprising the leaves and branches.
  • Deciduous Tree – Tree with leaves that fall off each autumn to save water loss in winter and to prevent extra weight in ice or snow storms.
  • Evergreen Tree – Tree that is in leaf throughout the year. Semi-evergreen is a tree that loses some leaves in autumn, retaining some until new leaves form in the spring.
  • Habitat conditions – Ongoing conditions such as drought or long periods of rain.
  • Modified Contour – A sketch that is drawn using one continuous line, occasionally looking at the paper.
  • Moon phase – Both the degree to which the moon is illuminated and the geometric appearance of the illuminated part. There are eight distinct, traditionally recognized phases.
  • Shrub – Tree that has more than one trunk; a low, usually several-stemmed woody plant.
Teacher's Guide
Unit One
  ArrowTree Exercise
Unit Two
Unit Three
Unit Four
 Related Topics:
  ArrowABC's of Chimp Behavior
  ArrowDr. Jane's Scrapbook
  ArrowMultiple Intelligences
  ArrowOnline Dictionary
  ArrowTree Sketching Guide
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