Observing a maple tree over time, children get a clear picture of what trees do and how seasons change. In summer, the tree is shown sunbathing and brimming with animal life. With autumn comes the flowing sap that makes maple syrup for pancakes. As winter approaches, the tree's leaves begin to fall, and it becomes nearly dormant.
After reading the book to the class, create and label a class chart that shows the different parts of a tree (bark, roots, crown, branches, leaves, etc.) Take the students outside to observe a tree that the class will visit during the school year. Students will keep a journal to show what their adopted tree looks like in each of the four seasons. Students should be encouraged to label the different parts of the tree, just like on the class chart. Teachers may want to reference the chart before observing their tree for each season. In addition, students can glue or tape a leaf from their tree during each of the seasons and write what attributes (color, shape, size, texture) on the page with their leaf.
After reading the story, students will observe two or three different trees over the course of the school year. Students will keep a journal containing notes and sketches of each tree during each of the four seasons. Students should have access to magnifying glasses, thermometers, and tape measures to collect data about each tree’s attributes, the temperature when their observations were made, and the circumference of their tree. At the end, students will be able to compare and contrast between the life cycles of different trees. Some questions that might be addressed are: How are the life cycles of your trees the same? How are they different? How did the temperature outside effect your tree?