Conifer Clues – Background

Follow a shaded trail through a northern forest on a warm summer’s day, and the warm rich scent of fragrant conifer needles fills the air. Though we tend to refer to all conifers as pine trees, a closer look reveals a wide variety of cone-bearing species in our woods. Plants are classified by how they grow and reproduce, the type of flower they make, how the seeds are formed, and the structure in which the seeds are contained. Conifer is the scientific term for trees with seeds in cones and, generally, needle-like leaves. Conifer trees are part of a larger group, called gymnosperms, which includes plants with seeds considered naked, not enclosed in a fruit. Continue reading Conifer Clues – Background

Conifer Clues – Activities

FOCUS: A closer look at the many variations in conifer cones and their leaves makes each species unique and recognizable and distinguishes the common evergreen trees in our neighborhoods and nearby woods.

Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about conifers.

Give a variety of conifer boughs to small groups of children, and ask what similarities and differences they notice.

Materials: a variety of conifer boughs, magnifying lenses.

Objective:  To sort and identify cones by their patterns of similarities and differences.

Ahead of time, collect a wide assortment of cones, being sure to have some cones that match any conifer trees growing on or around the school grounds, for a total of at least 100 cones. Try to collect five different kinds of conifer cones. Continue reading Conifer Clues – Activities

Conifer Clues – Puppet Show

A Very Pine Day

Characters: Reddy Red Squirrel, Hemlock Branch, Spruce Branch, Fir Branch, Pine Branch.

Reddy Red Squirrel  Oh boy, it’s time for lunch! I just have to find a kine pone so I can eat some seeds.

Hemlock  Don’t you mean find a pinecone?

Squirrel  Of course! Find a pinecone. That’s what I said…I think. Anyway, now I’ve found one, right here on your branch.

Hemlock  No, you haven’t. I’m not a pine, and this little cone isn’t a pinecone. Continue reading Conifer Clues – Puppet Show

Conifer Clues – Standards


The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Conifer Clues – Standards