Trees are a valuable resource and have many benefits. Their roots anchor soil and keep our water clean. The trunk of a tree provides paper, wood, and other materials. Their leaves create oxygen, and their fruit provides us with food.
Take the Tree Badge challenge to discover the ways humans and animals use trees.
To earn your badge, complete ONE activity for each section. Then, log your experience using the link at the bottom of the page.
Meet a Tree – Each tree varies in texture and size. Some may have moss or mushrooms growing on the trunk while others are missing bark from hungry beavers. Through this game, you’ll learn to identify a tree using only your sense of touch.
To play, grab a partner and a blindfold. One partner will be the guide and the other will be blindfolded. The guide will lead the blindfolded partner to a tree. Once there, the blindfolded player will begin exploring the tree with the help of their guide. Test how big the size of the tree is by hugging it, feel if there is anything growing on it, and notice the texture of the bark. The guide can lead the player’s hands to interesting features on the tree. Once the blindfolded player feels like they know their tree, the guide will lead them back to the starting point (feel free to take a different route than on the way there). Then, they will take off their blindfold and see if they can find their tree.
Leaf Rubbings – Gather a few different leaves from around your yard or neighborhood. Dry, freshly fallen leaves work best. Place them on a hard surface with the underside facing up (the side that is less smooth). Place a piece of paper of top of the leaf. Take a crayon and remove the paper sleeve. Place the crayon on its side and firmly color over the leaf. The textures and shape of your leaf will be revealed on the paper. For an extra challenge, can you identify the lobes, veins, and midrib of your leaf?
Tree Rings – Tree rings tell the story of a tree’s life. You can learn it’s age, if it was burned from a forest fire, if there was a large object located near the tree, and more. Find a stump or fallen tree with easily discernible rings. Using this guide from International Paper, try and answer the following questions:
- How old is the tree?
- Is there evidence of a forest fire?
- Do you notice any periods of good growth (wide spaces between rings)?
- Was the tree leaning to one side while it was alive?
Scavenger Hunt – An oak tree can provide food and shelter for over 5oo species of caterpillars! Squirrels, birds, and other animals also depend on trees for their survival. Find a tree near your house see how many animals you can spot using our Tree Habitat Scavenger Hunt.
What is Made from Trees? – Trees provide us with a variety of resources, from paper to fruit and nuts. Can you find 10 items in your house made from trees? The North Carolina Forestry Association has a list of lesser-known items.
Build a Shelter – Trees, logs, leaves, and tangled branches all provide shelter for animals. Use materials that come free trees to build your own shelter. Your shelter can be small enough for a bird or big enough for you. For an extra challenge, try to make it sun- or waterproof.