For many families, the search is on for the perfect family Christmas tree. Whether you traipse around in the woods or just hit a tree lot, you and your child can soon see that our beloved evergreen trees come in all sorts of sizes, with all sorts of needles and cones. Challenge your young scientist to explore these tree species with our downloadable Field Guide activity page!
Around the holidays, it’s easy to think of “pines” as just one species of tree. But in the great world out there, these evergreens actually take a wide number of shapes and sizes, just as we human beings do! Explain to your child that in this activity, you will want to look around carefully together, see what you can find, and see what you learn.
To practice some observation and identification (both good, solid science skills!), start by downloading the mini “field guide” with pictures of evergreen species that are particularly common for Christmas trees. Talk this over with your child: Notice, for example, that even though we think of them as “green,” some greens are more gray, and others almost blue. And although we talk about pine “needles,” some are very long and fluffy, while others are short and spiky.
To reinforce some particularly famous tree names, give your child our “Who am I” worksheet. Can she figure out which tree is which?
Now it’s time to move outdoors! If you’re lucky enough to live near a forested area, this is a terrific time to take your field guide in hand. Can you find any of these species in your area? Or perhaps you’re visiting a tree lot—all the better. These lots typically offer many species of trees. Which ones can your child find? Then, once she has seen a few real ones, it’s time for the big choice. Which one does she think will make the very best Christmas tree?
Did You Know?
According to the National Christmas Tree Association, Americans buy almost 30 million real (not artificial) Christmas trees every year!
For every Christmas tree that someone cuts down, there are 1-3 new seedlings planted the next spring.
A six foot tree may be as much as seven years old.
America’s most popular Christmas trees are balsam fir, Douglas fir, Fraser fir, noble fir, scotch pine, Virginia pine and white pine.
Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school History and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.