Module Seven

If Trees Could Talk Modules

Trees in Your Own Backyard

Tree-lined city street.  Photo  courtesy of 
City of St. Louis Department of Parks and Recreation and Forestry.


Trees in Your Own Backyard has students survey trees in the schoolyard and itemize their various benefits. They will consider human impacts on trees in the city landscape and the responsibility of citizens for reserving the urban forest.

Image Caption: Tree-lined city street. Photo courtesy of 
City of St. Louis Department of Parks and Recreation and Forestry.


  • The student will evaluate the effectiveness of domestic politics in addressing environmental issues.
    (Era 10, Contemporary United States: Standard 1A)
  • Social Studies
    • The student will practice forms of civic discussion and participation consistent with the ideals of citizens in a democratic republic.
      (Standard X, Civic Ideals and Practices, d)




Teacher Preparation:

Download and print: Module 7 Teacher and Student PDFs using Adobe Acrobat.

For Day 1 activity: Make copies of the "Trees in Your Own Backyard" essay for each student in your classroom. Next make copies of Worksheet 1 and Worksheet 2 for each student.

Day 2 activity: Obtain a map for the school yard (aerial photographs can usually be found at (Mapquest or Google Earth.) Obtain a clipboard for every pair of students. Next make copies of Worksheet 3 for each student.

Day 4 activity: Make copies of the Cooperative Forest Assistance Act of 1978 and Worksheet 4 for each student group.


Class Extensions

Take a field trip to a local land trust sanctuary. Have students ask questions of the land trust representative about how the land came to be preserved.

Invite a developer into the classroom to discuss issues such as tree buffers and cost of tree preservation on site.

Team Teaching Possibilities

Technology: Since Worksheet 3 has students conduct a tree survey and complete a sample tree key, ask students to transfer this information into a spreadsheet. The information could be retained online for future study.

English: Have students write a poem describing the schoolyard or local park.

Math: Ask students to use the results of their tree survey to draw a bar graph detailing the types of trees in the schoolyard or local park.

Science: Worksheet 3 can be used in social studies and science classes. For example, in conducting the survey of trees in the schoolyard or nearby park, social studies classes would focus on human interactions and the social value of trees, whereas science classes could concentrate on measurements, physical descriptions, naming species of trees, and the environmental value of trees to the school grounds.


Beveridge, Charles E. “A Park for the People.” Natural History 92 (August 1983): 28-39.

Bradley, Gordon A., ed. Urban Forest Landscape: Integrating Multidisciplinary Perspectives. Seattle: University of Washington, 1995.

Grey, Gene W. The Urban Forest: Comprehensive Management. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996.

Rosenzweig, Roy & Elizabeth Blackmar. The Park and the People: A History of Central Park. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992.

TreePeople with Andy and Katie Lipkis. The Simple Act of Planting a Tree: A Citizen Forester’s Guide to Healing Your Neighborhood, Your City, and Your World. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., 1990.

Wilson, William M. The City Beautiful Movement. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989.

Zube, Ervin H. “The Natural History of Urban Trees.” Natural History 82 (November 1973): 48-51.


Forest History Society Bibliographic resources on urban forestry, conservation, and environmental history.

American Forests provides several programs aimed at improving forest cover in urban areas.

National Arbor Day Foundation helps people plant and care for trees and encourages the celebration of Arbor Day. Its website has information on the benefits of trees, tree identification, and tree care.

National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council is an organization that supports education, projects, and groups related to urban and community forestry.

Trees Atlanta is a non-profit citizens’ group dedicated to protecting and improving their urban environment by planting and conserving trees. Their goals and methods might be useful for your community.

Alliance for Community Trees provides information, research, and networking for people working in urban and community forestry.

U.S. Forest Service’s State and Private Forestry describes a technique for determining the economic value of community trees.