Arbor Day and Tree Activities

Friday, April 28, is National Arbor Day in the US. It’s a perfect time to read A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry, and spend some time studying trees!

A Tree is Nice is a lovely book that won the Caldecott Medal in 1957, with illustrations alternate between color and black-and-white. The text describes the many ways that trees are a part of our lives. It even ends with planting a tree, which would be perfect if you plan to plant a tree with your class or at home!

You can easily use this book as a way to explore nature and scientific concepts of plant life, conservation and environmentalism.

Best Ages: pre-k – 2nd grade

For Parents:

  • Take a walk with your child. Make observations about the trees that are becoming more green and full in the spring season. Collect leaves from the ground.
  • At home, place a blank white paper over the leaves you collected on your walk and gently rub a crayon over the paper. You will create a raised image of the leaf. Talk about the difference in the shapes of the leaves and display your final artwork!

For Teachers:

  • Teach your students the parts of a tree. Use a free handout like this one if desired.
  • Explain the differences between coniferous and deciduous trees with this free slide show from Teachers Pay Teachers.
  • Discuss how trees are used to make products that we use. Here is a wonderful, free lesson plan from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

Read a Book that Makes a Difference

I was so happy to find a book that really seems to make a difference! One Tree by Leslie Bockol may look similar to other board books out there, but in addition to being printed on 98% recycled materials using soy-based ink, the book contains a sizable amount of text that makes it appropriate for preschool readers.

My preschool daughter asked me to re-read this book many times when we borrowed it from the library. She learned how a tree changes over the seasons, how it provides shelter and food for animals and how one of its seeds turns into a sapling over many years.

There are terrific notes in the back on the topics of “How do Trees Affect Us?” and “Save the Trees!” This is a great springboard for discussions on ecology, environmentalism and conservation with a preschooler.

Out of curiosity, I searched a bit and found that the publisher’s website has more green books, puzzles, games and more! These could make great gifts for birthdays, baby showers or Christmas for environmentally-friendly shoppers.

Happy reading 🙂

Best Ages: 0-4 years old