The Arboretum for Educators
Resources for Teachers, Students, and Families
What is a Tree? Part 1
Tree Architecture refers to the overall shape of a tree, best seen on most trees when the leaves are gone. Tree shape is dictated by both the inherent DNA of each species (genotype) and the tree’s interactions with and responses to its environment (phenotype.) Learning to observe various tree shapes is a fun way to spend time outdoors; learning the science behind it furthers more looking and outdoor exploration. The Arboretum is a great place to explore the diversity of tree architecture.

First, build your own background knowledge about the science of tree architecture by reading this article. Then, select from among the following activities to add to student discoveries.
K-2: Tree Architecture Hunt
Use these simple illustrated shape cards to lead students on a tree architecture hunt.
Grades 3-5: Tree Observation
Download this presentation with extensive teacher notes to guide your class in tree observation—through art and movement—and develop poetic language skills.
Middle School: Humans and Trees
Take a trip around the world to view the many ways humans have shaped tree architecture.

Then, download this science experiment to see tropism in action.
High School: Tree Architecture Presentation
Use this presentation with images from the Arnold Arboretum to explain the differences between genotype and phenotype. Students can use this worksheet to record their sketches and hypotheses.
December Happenings
Share with students and their families!
Family Hike: What is Beautiful to You?
Sunday, 12/18, 1:00-2:30pm
Hunnewell Building, Arnold Arboretum
Join us for a family hike as we explore the winter landscape to find something beautiful to each of us. We will go through varied parts of the landscape, including a forested area and an exploration of the ponds, looking at things large and small. 
Annual Lilac Sunday T-shirt Design Competition
For artists of all ages
Deadline: 12/18
Interested in helping design our annual t-shirt? Every year, we invite our community to contribute designs for our commemorative Lilac Sunday t-shirt. The competition is open to artists of all ages, and the winning selection will be printed on t-shirts for adults and children, available on Lilac Sunday: May 14, 2023.
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