Who lives in a tree?

Fall is a perfect time to explore where the squirrels and birds live within the tree branches. 

Ask the children to describe their homes.

  • What materials make up your house?
  • What rooms do you have in your house?
  • What do you do in your house?
  • Where do you eat and sleep?
  • Do you have a yard to play in?

Explain that animals and plants have homes, too. Using a tree on or near your property or a picture of a tree, ask: Have you ever seen an animal using a tree as its home or habitat? What animals have you seen eating or sleeping in a tree?

Gather pictures of human homes and animal homes. Have the children sort the homes and discuss differences and similarities.

Tree Walk

Go on a tree walk to find examples of animals and plants that depend on trees in your schoolyard or surrounding neighborhood. Look for:

  • animals (e.g. squirrels, birds, insects) living in tree holes or nests, hiding from predators, eating tree fruits, perching, or nesting in tree branches,
  • vines climbing up tree trunks to seek and soak up sunlight,
  • lichens growing on bark,
  • mushrooms growing on dead or dying trees, and
  • snags or fallen trees providing homes for many animals and plants.
hickory nuts
These are yummy hickory nuts! Are they for people, animals, or both?

Investigate a few trees up close – collect some of the fallen objects. Take pictures of things that are too large to collect or are still attached to the tree. 

  • look around for fallen bark, fruits, leaves, nuts, seeds, or twigs that might show signs of animal or plant life,
  • look on the ground for animal droppings that show animals live in the tree or eat the tree’s fruits or seeds (look, but don’t touch!), and
  • look on the bark for scratch marks caused by sharp claws or antlers.

Write a class book about animals that live in trees. Encourage children to choose an animal that they have seen in a tree.  Children can add a page to the book by making a drawing of the animal in the tree and dictating text about how their animal uses the tree (e.g., for a home, for sleeping, eating, protection, etc.)  

For this and other great activities use Growing Up WILD’s “Who Lives in a Tree?”