Studying Trees with Kids

I like to study trees in the autumn when the leaves are falling, but my son was very interested in trees during the spring. Trees in California, Colorado, Michigan have become a little more familiar to us in past fall seasons, but we learned about German trees in the spring.

I have a favorite tree book. A GOLDEN GUIDE: TREES. was actually the tree book I used in seventh grade when I created my tree scrapbook. This book is a pocket guide which contains common species. Since I'm not a tree expert I don't need or care for a thorough guide. The best thing about A Golden Guide: Trees, is that it breaks trees down into seven categories, and explains how to recognize trees in each category.

Needle-Like or Scaly Leaves - Conifers
Simple Leaves - Edges of leaves neither toothed nor lobed
Simple Leaves - Edges of leaves toothed
Simple Leaves - Edges lobed and toothed - Fruit is an Acorn
Simple Leaves - Edges lobed and toothed - Fruit is not an Acorn
Leaflets - Feather-Like
Leaflets - Finger-Like

We have identified this tree as a birch and think it is the European White Birch. Our goal at this point is not to be able to identify each and every species, but rather to identify different types of trees and uniquenesses which link them together.

Birch trees tend to have white or light colored bark, the flowers look like caterpillars, the simple leaves are toothed and turn yellow in the fall and they are related to Aspen trees which can be found all over Colorado.

Magnolia trees are beautiful in the spring.

Horse Chestnut trees are common in our area. The Golden Guide is meant for American Trees, but the Horse Chestnut is in the guide. They were brought from the Balkins to America and commonly line streets. Just down the street from our house several Horse Chestnut trees line the street. The kids love to collect the nuts in the fall. My son dug up a newly sprouted nut and plans to replant it.

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