|Unit One: Tree Exercise
- 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
||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.
- Part 1 – 40 minutes
- Part 2 – 40 minutes
||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.
||Before You Begin
Print out a Tree Sketching Guide for each student.
Part 1: Find Your Tree
- 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?
- Have them view the tree
Dr. Jane selected and find out why she chose it.
- Ask students to make a list of trees that they like or
are important to them.
- 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
- 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
Part 2: Sketch Your Tree
- 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.
- 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.
- Students complete their journal entries by writing brief
explanations about why they selected their trees.
- 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,
- 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.
- 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
- Shrub – Tree that has more than
one trunk; a low, usually several-stemmed woody plant.