This week’s theme:
Unsolved Mysteries – Climate Change
Fact of the day:
Trees act like the lungs of the earth. Trees help the planet breathe by turning carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) into clean, pure oxygen.
Paper, pens, paint; Youtube; water, kitchen roll; tube, leaves, sticks; green and brown clothing; paper, pens, ball of socks.
Trees absorb or ‘breathe in’ Carbon Dioxide gas through their leaves and ‘breathe out’ Oxygen. On this film you can see that half way through the year, when trees have their green leaves, that the swirling levels of carbon dioxide (red) in the air decrease, and then return again when the leaves of the trees fall off at the beginning and end of the year, in winter.
Draw a bare tree (or download and print this one), and cover it in leaves that do the important job of absorbing carbon dioxide. You can do this by cutting out leaf shapes to glue on your tree, finger painting leaves, using bubble wrap dipped in paint to print leaves, or simply drawing them on.
Point to where your own lungs are. Try this singing warm up that is good for the health of your own lungs. You’ll be able to feel your lungs working as you sing the warm up breaths!
A tree’s leafy canopy catches rain before it reaches the ground, allowing some of the water to gently drip to the ground and the rest to evaporate. When it rains heavily these trees and their leafy tops can slow the water down, stop it from hitting the ground quickly, and stop it from flowing fast over the ground. This means that the rain water doesn’t rush as quickly into rivers and streams and cause flash flooding.
Try an experiment. Onto a piece of kitchen roll, slowly drip water from a tap, or drip water off your fingertips – the kitchen roll should be able to cope with a slow drip and absorb the water well. If you turn the tap on for a faster flow of water, the kitchen roll won’t be able to absorb all the water and will ‘flood’. This is what leaves and trees do, they slow the water flow down enabling rain water to slowly drip to the ground and be absorbed by the soil. Without trees the rain water flows fast and the ground can’t absorb it quickly enough, or becomes too soggy, and the water floods.
Try another experiment with a tube. Time how long it takes water, poured from a watering can, to pass through a tube. It’ll be fast! This is like rain falling from the sky directly onto the ground. Now put some trees and their leaves in the way of the rain by pushing some leaves, twigs, or pretend leaves made from your recycling into the tube. Pour your water again, the leaves should ‘catch’ and slow down the speed of your water through the tube; just like what happens in a forest by the canopy of trees.
Act like a tree! If you have them, dress in green and brown clothing; start off small as a sapling planted in the ground – grow up taller and taller, as far as you can stretch, hold out your arms like branches, rustle and wiggle your leaves at your fingertips, stand up tall and strong with your trunk, wriggle your toe roots, or lie on the floor and stretch out like roots making a slurping noise, sucking up water! You could listen to this song as you move your branches and sway your trunk in a gentle breeze
The rings inside a tree can tell scientists how old a tree is and what the weather conditions were like during each year of that tree’s life. Very old trees can offer clues about what the climate in an area was like long before measurements were recorded. If you’ve ever seen a tree stump, you probably noticed that the top of the stump had a series of rings. These rings can tell us how old the tree is, and what the weather was like during each year of the tree’s life. The light-colored rings represent wood that grew in the spring and early summer, while the dark rings represent wood that grew in the late summer and fall. One light ring plus one dark ring equals one year of the tree’s life.
Tree rings usually grow wider in warm, wet years and they are thinner in years when it is cold and dry. If the tree has experienced stressful conditions, such as a drought, the tree might hardly grow at all in those years.
Draw your own tree rings using light then dark, light then dark coloured lines. Share photos of your work on our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put it online for you!
Make a tree ring dart board for the floor – it could be drawn on a cardboard box, on a large piece or roll of paper, or marked out with masking tape (a bit like this), earn points for your ball (this could be a ball of socks) landing in the different concentric circles.
‘Shirin Yoko’ is the Japanese art of ‘Forest Bathing’! Forest Bathing is a belief that spending time immersed in forests and around trees promotes good health, improves well being, boosts your creativity and reduces stress. It’s not about spending time in forests to do exercise or workouts, but just to sit or lay near trees in quiet contemplation, feeling connected to nature. Try sitting quietly by a tree; can you hear it and smell it and touch it? Can you make a bark rubbing to see and feel the texture, or collect some leaves or fallen twigs to smell and touch?
Look up, can you see the top of the tree? How about the sky? Can you see any clouds, if so do they look like anything – can you spot any faces, rabbit, or snakes?