CTFO Education Site

TEACHING PLANS Lesson Six: A Christmas Tree Field Trip

A trip to a nearby Ontario Christmas tree farm or sales lot is an inexpensive and informative outing.

Desired Learning Outcome:

1.) To expose children to a variety of evergreen trees and to encourage them to recognize the differences between trees and particular species.


Once a year, forests seem to grow in the city. Every empty corner lot fills up with trees that arrive in an endless stream on trucks from the country. The trees stand in row after row beneath strings of white lights...bell shaped trees, tall skinny trees, bushy trees and tiny, perfect trees all waiting for a family to take them home. The trees have all been grown on farms in Ontario but they might be the descendents of trees from the far north, from British Columbia or even from Europe.

If possible, arrange a trip to a Christmas tree farm. A directory to harvest-your-own farms is available with this kit. Many growers are able to provide additional services to complement your classroom study as well as providing a pleasant and informative out-of-class experience.

Suggested Questions:

1.) Make a list of all the kinds of trees you can find. Most lots will contain good examples of pine, spruce and fir .

2.) Tell us how you think the needles on conifers are adapted to withstand the wind.

3.) Explain how the needles are arranged so that the snow tends to fall off the tree.

4.) Tell us how the needles are different among the different types of conifers.

5.) Describe the different types of needles you found. Are they short or long; flat or round or pointed; soft or stiff ? Do they grow in clumps or singly ? Do they grow in parallel rows or do they encircle the twig ?

6.) What does conifer mean ? How many types of cones can you find on the trees at the farm or lot ? Tell us about the cones you found. Are they green and small or brown and woody ? What do you think the difference might indicate? Green - immature; brown - mature Are the cones open or closed ? How big are they ? Do they stand up on the branch or hang beneath it ?

7.) Trees have skin to protect them. Tell us what you think it is called. Different kinds of trees have different kinds of bark. Young trees have smooth bark but as a tree ages, its bark develops cracks and wrinkles as it expands. Describe the different types of bark you can find on the tree farm.

8.) Each year, a tree grows a new layer of wood. These layers can be seen at the cut end of the stem and appear as a series of circles within circles. The number of rings in the stem equals the number of years the tree has been growing. Find the growth rings on the butt of cut trees at the farm or lot. Tell us how old they are.

9.) Look at the trees on the farm or in the lot. How tall are they? In the wild, White pine trees (which are the largest in Eastern Canada) grow 45 metres tall. White spruce grow about 36 metres and Balsam fir about 15 metres. Douglas fir, in the wild, can grow up to 90 metres, making it one of the largest trees in the world. Sometimes, tree lots will have small Douglas fir. Tell us why you think that the trees on Christmas tree farms or in sales lots are not this tall.

10.) How much do trees cost to buy ? Investigate where they came from and how they got there. Explain why some trees cost more than others.

11.) Which tree is your favourite? Explain why.

This site is presented for your information and enjoyment by the
Christmas Tree Farmers of Ontario.

Copyright 1997 ©. All rights reserved.

Phone 705-429-5328 or fax 705-429-6561

E-mail: ctfo@christmastrees.on.ca