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.
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.
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?”