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Tree Planting Activity

Adopt a tree for Arbor Day and watch it grow day by day, month by month.
Updated: December 1, 2022

Tree Planting Activity

An Imagination Station Activity

Age: Preschool and up
Time: 5 minutes or your life time
Type of Activity: Backyard science

Materials needed:

  • One tree (oak, maple, or any other type of tree or bush)
  • Shovel
  • Bucket of water
  • Measuring tape
  • Journal
  • Pen or pencil
  • Camera (optional)
Planting the tree

1. Pick out a tree. Very young trees are usually sold bare-root. Bare-root means that they will look like sticks with a bit of root at one end. They can only be planted when they are dormant. The roots of very young trees must be soaked in a bucket of water for a few hours before planting. Larger trees are usually sold balled-and-burlapped. This means that the roots are enclosed in dirt and wrapped in burlap and twine or wire. These trees can be planted at any time.

2. Pick a suitable spot in your yard to plant your tree. Be sure that the tree has the amount of sunlight that it needs to grow.

3. Dig a hole and set aside the soil, sod clumps, and rocks. You want the hole large enough that the roots fit in without being crowded.

  • For bare-root trees, the hole should be a few inches deeper than the length of the root and wider than the spread of the root.

  • For the ball-and-burlapped tree, you will want to measure the height of the root ball and the depth of the hole before planting it. Remove the twine or wire before putting in the hole.
4. Put the tree in the hole and fill it 2/3 of the way with the dirt. Fill the rest of the hole with water. Once it has settled, fill the rest of the hole with dirt.

5. Make a saucer-like circle around the tree using the leftover rocks and dirt clumps. Water thoroughly and then mulch.

6. Stake the tree so that it does not get knocked over by strong winds, lawn mowers, and other hazards. Water thoroughly once a week in dry weather.

Variation: Bring a tree indoors! Some trees may be grown in large pots or other containers.

Source: The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch

How does your tree grow?

For this part, you can always pick a tree that is already growing instead of planting a new one.

At the beginning of each month, take a look at your tree. Record in your journal the following observations:

  • Measure the height.
  • Measure the circumference of the trunk.
  • What does the bark look like?
  • How many branches does it have?
  • Does it have leaves? If so, how many? What color are they?
  • Does it have buds?
  • Does it have fruit or seeds, like apples or acorns or pinecones?
  • Draw a picture of your tree.
Variation: Also record your child's height each month. Take a picture of your child by the tree. Find out who has grown more in the past month/year!

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