Index Children's Activities - Archive of Older Posts

"Earth and sky, wood and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books."
- Sir John Lubbock

Nature Activities and Education for Children and Teens

On March 14, 2010 the Eastern Native Tree Society and Western Native Tree Society switched from discussion lists on Google Groups to a new discussion list in a Bulletin Board format at:  Posts made since the inception of the BBS on march 14, 2010 will be sorted and archived on the BBS. Click on the link to go to the equivalent section on the new BBS. This website will continue to serve as a front end for the ENTS and WNTS groups. It will continue to serve as a repository of older posts, and will serve as the host site for special projects and features that are not well suited for a BBS format. Please visit the BBS for the latest information and trip reports.

Post by Edward Frank, July 17, 2006 to the ENTSTrees List:

It is clear to me that a critical aspect of the future of our forests and of the environment in general is dependant on our children's appreciation and understanding of the natural world.  "A Nature Conservancy-funded study to be published in August found that per capita visits to U.S. national parks have been declining since 1987, after having risen for the previous 50 years. The drop occurs as the use of electronic media is on the rise – something that researchers call “evidence of a fundamental shift away from people’s appreciation of nature.”  

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I believe, and so do other members of ENTS that various activities must be designed to introduce children to the wonders and mystery of the natural world.  This section of the website is devoted to that goal.  There are several categories to be considered. Some may be appropriate for classroom activities. Some may be appropriate for family activates. Others might be something that could be done as an afternoon activity - such as one of the presentations Dale does at Cook Forest Park. Obvious long term activities might include leaf collections. In this time of digital cameras children could collect photos of trees. There are crafty type activities (I am not personally really keen on doing things like making pine cone wreaths, but they are a valid activity type). There are activities such as making leaf rubbings or bark rubbings from trees. Leaf prints can be made and transferred to tee-shirts. I have found a few links below. It would be nice to synthesize the best of these examples and rewrite them to meet out purposes. The more detailed ones can be referenced by a hyperlink to the appropriate website. Do you have other links you want to add or could you volunteer to write-up an activity. 

One thing very impressive at Craters of the Moon National Park was a series of outside displays at the visitors center. 

The displays consisted of a series of drawing by children who had participated in park activities on themes ranging from the volcanoes to how animals survived in the basalt expanses of the park... Neat stuff. 



General Activities and Comments

Keeping a Nature Journal

Butterfly Flower Gardening

Teaching Through Nature  

Nature Activities for Children

Nature Conservancy Study Finds Today's Kids Are Choosing TV Over Trees

Cooperative Learning Activity - Students will work as a group to demonstrate their understanding of all four seasons, differences between them, and how these differences effect people, animals, or plants.

Project Learning Tree

Children's Outdoor Play & Learning Environments:
Returning to Nature

Bringing the northern forest to your classroom In recent years the Forest Service has reemphasized the need for increased environmental literacy among the Nation's citizens and has recognized the benefits of addressing that need among school-age children. This publication is a product of an Adirondack Curriculum Project workshop sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station, and Paul Smith's College. The workshop was held at Great Camp Sagamore in Raquette Lake, NY, in June 2005. Great Camp Sagamore is operated by the Sagamore Institute, which is dedicated to the stewardship of the camp and to its use for educational and interpretive purposes. For 2 days, 22 teachers met with resource professionals with expertise in either the Northern Forest or in teaching methods and techniques, or both, and developed the lesson plans in this publication.


Trees and leaves



National Arbor Day Foundation
Teaching Older Children and Youth About Trees

Trees Craft, Learn Shapes
National Arbor Day, Earth Day and Word Environment Day
Preschool Lesson Plan Printable Activities

Trees Are Terrific...Travels with Pierre, is designed to help young children (5-8 years of age) gain an appreciation of trees, observe trees in their every day lives and develop an interest in learning more about trees. It is intended for adults to work with children to explore the wonders of trees.

Just for Kids from University of Illinois Extension
Dr. Arbor Talks Trees ? Great Corn Adventure ? Great Plant Escape ? Let's Talk about Insects ? Out on a Limb ? Secret Life of Trees?

Little Park Project

Project Learning Tree - Learning about forests

Forest Gallery Kit. Part 2, Learning activity ideas - Learning to to know
Learning in order to know, to make sense of the world around, to become informed about contemporary issues, to make connections between past, present and future, to understand complex systems which act npredictably at times.

Trees and Insects - A Rotten Place to Live Lesson Plan
Unit Abstract. Academic Areas: Science, Social Studies, Math and Computers. ... occupations where learning about insects and trees will come in ... activity: This activity was developed for...


Tree Climbing

"I've done training to facilitate tree climbing activities for child (and teens and adults).
Getting kids on ropes and climbing into trees is a direct way to help them become more 
aware of trees. Kids love it! The youngest I've brought into a tree is 5 years old. For 
teens it is most gratifying to see them (sometimes with their classic listless pose) come 
out of the tree with eyes sparkling. All thoughts of television and cellphones go away 
during the climb, the connection with trees and nature is inevitable."  Andrew Joslin
Jamaica Plain, Ma

"Genevieve Summers is the premier teacher and practitioner of this type of climbing activity in
the U.S., there is excellent info on her web site:

There's good info here as well in the Tree Climbers International web site (Peter Jenkins)
which addresses questions about children and tree climbing:

There is an organization in England that has come up with some novel ways to get people 
interacting with trees, more equipment intensive but cool activities nonetheless:

Andrew Joslin
Jamaica Plain, Ma


Leaf Collecting

Making a Tree Leaf Collection: 
The thrill of correctly identifying trees can be enhanced by properly collecting leaves to make a collection and then mounting them in an exhibit. Some properly prepared collections have survived for over a century in botanical sections of museums.  

Leaf Collection
Leaf collecting is a good way to learn the trees native to your area. Collecting leaves will also help you to learn leaf margins, shapes, and venations and how to use different taxonomic keys to identify trees.  

Fasmily Fun Crafts - Saving your child's Leaf collection  

Frugal Crafts and Gifts - Preserving Autumn Leaves
Many children have completed a leaf collection for a school project, it can be a lot of fun for their siblings, parents and grandparents too. And it's practically free! So, here's a great idea for Fall - just think how pretty an Autumn array of red, orange and yellow leaves arranged in a leaf collection album would be, simply beautiful! 

Cleared Leaf Collection
Cleared leaves are modern leaves that have been bleached and stained to make their venation patterns more visible. Leaf shape, venation, and features of the margin, base and apex constitute important taxonomic and physiognomic characters. 


Leaf Rubbings

How to Make a Leaf Rubbing 

Leaf Rubbings 

Tissue Leaf Rubbings 

Bark and Leaf Rubbings 

eHow: How to do a leaf rubbing 

How to Wax Leaves for Arrangements 

Leaf Prints

Family Crafts - Leaf Craft Project 

Figerpaint Leaf Prints Ages 3-4 Classroom Activity 

Family Crafts - Leaf Prints
Try your hand at printmaking by making pictures and other items using leaves 

Fall Leaf Print
This is a great project for any age. The colors come from the chlorophyll in the leaves. 

Tempra Leaf Prints - Lesson A, Level 18 Printmaking 

The Naturalist's Apprentice: Maing Leaf Prints 

Leaf Print Tablecloth 

Collage Techniques: Creating Background Paper with Leaf Prints 

Crayola® Arts & Crafts - Harvest of Leaf Prints craft project: "Harvest of Leaf Prints" - Capture details in natural objects with a monoprint. 

Flower Presses

How to press your own flowers - simple flower pressing instructions.
Simple instructions for pressing flowers. Learn how to produce your own professional looking arrangements. 

How to make a flower press
learn how to make flower presses with these simple instructions. 

How To Press Flowers, Leaves and Herbs
Instructions and techniques for pressing flowers and foliage, including information on preparation and types of presses. 

Preserved Gardens Pressed Flowers
Pressed flowers and foliage information, flower presses and pressing techniques, projects, forums and searchable reference database 

Dried & Pressed Flowers - GardenWeb
A forum for the discussion of topics relating to drying and pressing flowers. ... Best sealant for pressed flower greeting cards 

All About Pressed Flower Art. 
About Myself and My Pressed Flower Art. My name is Kate Chu and I am the artist and teacher behind this web site.



Collecting Plants and Plant Presses

Collecting Plants: A Pressing Project 
Making Herbaria, Field Guides, Gifts 

Preparation of Plant Specimens for Deposit as Herbarium Vouchers
A voucher herbarium specimen is a pressed plant sample deposited for future reference. It supports research work and may be examined to verify the identity of the specific plant used.... 

How to Collect, Press and Mount Plants
A properly dried, pressed and mounted plant is attractive, easily displayed and ... the specimens are properly pressed and mounted with.. 

Build and Use a Tree Leaf and Plant Press
Make a tree leaf press for preparing exhibits in a foliage collection. 

Pressed-Plant Cards
Press with an iron set at a medium temperature until the plant cuttings turn slightly paler, about 2 minutes. 3. Attach dried cuttings to card stock with .. 

Student Activity 3a: Making a Plant Press
When scientists preserve a specimen of a plant (or part of a plant) they ... Plants that have been collected need to be pressed as soon s possible. 

Activity 4: Information to Record When Collecting Plants
Teaching People Plant Collecting. Activity #4. Information to Record when Collecting Plants. OBJECTIVE: Students will learn the information that needs to be recorded when plants are collected 

~Plant Collecting Guidelines~
Botanical voucher specimens should be collected for any scientific research or survey studies involving plants. Plant material should be prepared in the following way for submission. 

how to make a mounted plant collection
How to make a mounted plant collection in 10 easy steps. By Anita Merritt. Plant collecting is an interesting hobby, and a fun way to learn about plants. 


Kids and Photography  

Children's Use of New Technology for Picture-Taking by Ruth Garner, Yong Zhao and Mark Gillingham

YouthLearn Learning: Teaching Digital Photography 
Showing Kids How to See With the Camera's Eye Photography is not just about pointing and pressing a button; it's a decision-making process. One of the best reasons for working photography into your activities and projects is that it helps kids better understand the media images they're bombarded with every day. 

A Native Son Gives Back To His Community
LeRoy DeJolie volunteers his time teaching children photography on the Navajo reservation. 

Photography for Kids 
Photographer Wendy Ewald calls photography "the most democratic visual art" - accessible to everyone with the means to buy a ten-dollar camera and some film. Compared to other visual arts such, as painting and sculpture, photography depends least on manual dexterity, making it ideal for kids of all ages. 

Photography info - Teaching Black And White Photography To Kids
Everything you need to do with Teaching Black And White Photography To Kids 

Dennis Curtin's journal of natural events in and around Marblehead, Massachusetts   

Photography for Kids- Luminous Landscape Forum 

1 Let?s Make a Better Picture: Teaching Photography as Science and ...
teaching photography to young children reveals the multiple relationships I ... My original idea for teaching photography to elementary school children was .. 

Kid's Photo Fun - Digital Camera Projects, Basics, Tips & How Tos
Teaching Digital Photography: Showing Kids How to See With the Camera's Eye - In-depth online teaching course from YouthLearn on how to introduce ...    

Reading, Writing, & Digital Photography: By APTE Professional Education Development Group
Literacy and technology are at the forefront of educational agendas worldwide. As reading teachers are looking for innovative ways to get students excited about literacy, developers are making it easier to integrate new forms of technology into reading and writing curriculums. Digital photography is one technology that can easily be used to motivate, extend, and transform literacy instruction. 

Children's Use of New Technology for Picture-Taking by Ruth Garner, Yong Zhao and Mark Gillingham

IDEO’s Ten Tips For Creating a 21st–Century Classroom Experience