Trees: Buds and Twigs

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In this hands-on nature activity, learners observe the emergence of leaves and flowers. Branches from trees and bushes are collected in the early spring, brought indoors, and placed in water. Learners consider such questions as: Do the leaves on the trees all emerge at the same time or do some trees sprout leaves sooner than others? Do all trees produce spring flowers? What environmental factors may bring about these changes? This activity is done over the course of a season, with learners observing changes periodically. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
1 to 2 hours

Learning Time:
1 to 12 months

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Field Trip, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 1 plastic bag (gallon size) or plastic grocery bag
  • 1 container for water (such as glass jars or soda bottles; 7–8 inches tall)
  • knife or cutting shears
  • masking tape
  • permanent markers
  • tree/plant identification books
  • chart paper
  • digital cameras


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
    • Ecology
      • Energy Flow and Chemical Cycles
      • Biodiversity
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity
  • Physical Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, DRL‐0714703