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A Tree is Nice

Lesson Plans



Inspired by the book "A Tree is Nice" by Janice May Udry, this resource engages students in learning about the special characteristics of trees that makes them so important to both humans and the environment.  With an emphasis on taking students outside to explore trees in their natural habitat the activities also reinforce the concept that all of us can and should be "tree stewards".  

By the end of this lesson students will be able to:

  • Identify the four key tree parts and identify the function of each structure.
  • Explain the importance of trees.
  • Identify activities that can harm trees and suggest stewardship actions.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Plant Identification
  • Vocabulary
  • Responding to written information
  • Sorting and categorizing


  • Strong connections between ELA and Science outcomes.
  • Timely and relevant topic.
  • Actively encourages outdoor exploration.
  • Contains a good summary of forest conservation issues for the teacher.


  • No differentiation has been provided for the ELA aspects of the lesson.
  • No assessment strategies included.
  • No action projects included.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This lesson complements and includes the children's book "A Tree is Nice" which has already been reviewed on the website.  Pairing this lesson plan with the book will make an excellent companion to any Science unit with a plant theme while integrating ELA outcomes related to reading and responding to literature. 

During the lesson students identify useful products that come from trees.  Further exploration could have the class select a product and investigate the process from tree to commodity.  A field trip to a local mill could even be arranged.

One of the key aspects of sustainable forests is paper recycling.  A class could initiate a project where they learn more about this process and how to identify products made from recycled paper.  Younger students could make seed planters out of scrap paper and raise tree seedlings that could be planted at home or school.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (2)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Interdependence
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Forests

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

This lesson supports a conservation ethic while students learn about the science of trees.  There is also some excellent teacher background information that identifies most of the issues surrounding forest degradation and conservation.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

Activities include discussions about the environmental and social benefits of trees.  Economic impacts of forest use are not specifically addressed but a teacher can easily make the connection between forests and the economy during the dialogue about the value of trees.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Satisfactory

Due to the young target audience this lesson is very simple in nature but an effort is made to encourage students to consider the loss of trees from a forest ecosystem perspective.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

The lesson has some excellent discussion surrounding the concept of stewardship but no specific action initiatives are supported.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Good

Children are encouraged to consider the value of trees in their own lives thus they are able to develop meaningful and personally relevant ideas related to the topic.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

Not relevant to the purpose of this lesson.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

The lesson can be implemented as an indoor or outdoor activity but taking students outside as suggested will deepen their connection to the natural world.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good

The lesson provides students with an authentic, local experience since trees are found almost everywhere in Canada and very few children have never experienced the joy of playing in and around trees.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good

Students learn that trees are among the oldest living plants on Earth and are asked to consider the past and present day impacts of human actions on forests.  The stewardship philosophy of this lesson also fosters a conservation ethic in young learners who will become the environmental citizens of the future.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

By integrating the book with the active exploration of trees students are able to develop their own ideas about the topic of conservation

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

This resource supports both English Language Arts and Science learning outcomes.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good

If a teacher follows the resource recommendation to take students outside to observe trees in their natural setting there is a tremendous opportunity for students to actively explore.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.


Differentiated Instruction Poor/Not considered

The activities include a great deal of reading and writing content which could prove difficult for some students.  No support  strategies are identified in the lesson.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good

The activities can occur inside or outside but would be much more experiential if the lesson occurs outside as suggested.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory

Students are able to engage in think-pair-share learning during the matching activity.  The remainder of the lesson is designed for whole class learning.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Poor/Not considered

No specific assessment strategies are included in the resource, although the  teacher could use the drawing and labelling activity as a formative assessment.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Poor/Not considered
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Satisfactory

The topic of trees is so relevant that a teacher could easily locate examples within their own community of forested areas and areas where trees have been removed, thereby strengthening student connections to the subject.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Poor/Not considered
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.