Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Why do we use evergreen trees as Christmas trees?

Here is a fun activity that I found on Preschool Rock:

"It’s the holiday season and many preschoolers will be hanging ornaments on their Christmas tree. But has your preschooler asked why they can’t have the Maple tree from their backyard for a Christmas tree? If so, this Christmas tree botany lesson is for you.

What is an Evergreen Tree?

Simply put, an evergreen tree is a tree that does not lose its leaves, also called foliage, in winter. An evergreen tree’s leaves are called pine needles. They are long, dark green, and pointy. They do not look like deciduous tree leaves. A deciduous tree is a tree that loses its leaves in the winter to conserve energy so that it can live through the winter months that generally do not produce enough water to sustain the tree.

So why do evergreen trees live through the winter? Help your preschooler use his observation skills to understand why an evergreen tree lives all year long.

Step One: Observe
Pick up a deciduous leaf and an evergreen pine needle. Examine them both closely. What are the differences? What are the similarities?

The main difference you will find is that the pine needle is waxy and long while the deciduous leaf is flat and somewhat dry depending on the leaf type. The waxy layer of the evergreen needle serves to hold water in.

Step Two: Experiment
Take two plastic containers. Put them both outside on a sunny day, one with a lid and one without. At the end of the day which one has more water in it? The one with the lid should. This is just like the waxy cover of the Evergreen tree. It keeps the tree alive in the winter and thus makes a great Christmas tree!

If you don’t have evergreen trees nearby to observe a fake evergreen holiday decoration may serve just as well. The main idea of the observation is to see the waxy cover on the evergreen needle. Certainly a fake pine needle will feel waxy!"


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