Tree Treasures

Students become tree detectives as they ask questions to identify and categorize tree products taped to their backs.

Objective

To learn the many products that come from trees, find out which forest products are recyclable or reusable, and recommend actions for conserving forest resources

Materials

  • Magazines with pictures of wood products or paper and drawing utensils
  • Scissors
  • Tape

Time

30 minutes

Procedure

Before you begin, gather old magazines with plenty of advertisements and cut out pictures of products derived from trees. Or if magazines are not available, draw different products from trees on separate sheets of paper. Examples should include wood products, paper products, food products, and miscellaneous products such as medicines, fibers, flowers, and homes for honeybees. Make at least one picture per kid. Around the room, tape pieces of paper that say “wood products,” “paper products,” “food products,” and “miscellaneous products.”

Start the activity with a brainstorming session. Ask the kids to name as many tree products as they can think of, listing their ideas on a flip chart or chalkboard if you have one. After a few minutes, look back over the list. Which products do the kids use every day? Which are made totally from trees? Which are made partially from trees? 

Now tell the kids that they are going to be tree detectives! Assign each kid a mystery product by taping a tree-product picture to each kid’s back. Tell the kids they must figure out the identity of the product on their back by asking each other questions, which can only be answered “yes” or “no.” Give the kids time to mingle; they can ask each person only two questions. In this manner, each kid will gather clues about a “mystery tree product” and try to figure out what it is. When a kid knows what his or her product is, he or she needs to decide which category the product belongs in: food, wood, paper, or miscellaneous. He or she can then go stand in the appropriate product category area designated by one of the four signs on the wall.

The kids gathered by each category can now share with the others why they think they belong in that group. If a kid has misidentified his or her product or is standing in the wrong category, others in the group should provide more clues until the product’s identity or category becomes apparent. Kids should also discuss whether their products could fit in more than one category. Allow kids to change groups if they see fit. 

Afterward, revisit the list of tree products the group brainstormed earlier. Have the class identify categories each kid belongs in. See if kids can name other products that come from trees. Talk about unusual tree products such as chewing gum, turpentine, spices, medicines, and others. You may want to bring in samples of some unusual tree products. 

Kids may want to think about how they could use forest products in a way that helps to extend and conserve forest resources. They can explore ways to remove forest products from the waste stream (e.g., reuse paper bags, recycle newspaper).

Variation:

Have kids gather into groups based on what part of the tree their product is derived from— leaves, fruits, flower, wood, bark, sap, roots: Label sections of the room according to these tree parts. Tape pictures to the kids’ backs and have them guess their identities as in the activity above. After guessing, they should go to the proper “tree part” section.

Tree Products

  • Cellulose Products: Carpeting, cellophane, rayon and other fabrics, thickening agent in shampoos, suntan lotion, cosmetics, paper products, fiber board, imitation leather
  • Bark Products: Cork, tannin (used for curing leather), dye, drugs and oils
  • Sap Products (Gums and Resins): Cosmetics, paint thinner, perfumes, soap, rubber products, sugar and syrup, varnishes, waxes, chewing gum, flavoring, printing ink, shoe polish, crayons, cleaning fluids, electrical insulation, adhesives


This lesson plan is an activity from the Environmental Activities for Youth Clubs and Camps, a resource developed by the Peace Corps Office of Overseas Programming and Training (OPATS). It was contributed by Peace Corps/Armenia.

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