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Hands-on science for tree huggers

Treecology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Trees and Forests

Monica Russo
Chicago Review Press
114 pp.
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Age Range: 7 – 12 years

Grade Level: 2 and up

Trees are the stuff of childhood memories. They provide nature’s monkey bars, ample matter for leaf-pile fun, reprieve from the summer heat, and home for myriad creatures of the animal world. In Treecology, author Monica Russo and photographer Kevin Byron present almost everything a fourth- to sixth-grader would want to know about this woody plant’s structure, a primer on the variety of tree species, and a discussion of their role in ecosystems.

Photos, illustrations, and text boxes carefully and effectively enhance the detailed descriptions. Exploration of nature is encouraged
through very simple activities requiring minimal materials, such as “your sharp eyes” and a plastic food storage bag or “your imagination” and a magnifying glass.

Elementary-aged children should enjoy these activities, but the detail in which each topic is discussed might be tedious for the very young. Educators will likely find the text useful for planning lessons and will no doubt appreciate the resources at the end, which include a teachers’ guide. Readers of Treecology are sure to view woody plants as not just a source of shade on a hot day but as critical parts of our neighborhoods and the world as a whole.