Who Lives Here?

Explore the different parts of a tree to see which animals live in and around trees.

Big Idea: Different animals and insects live in trees.


  • Several magnifying glasses
  • Clipboard
  • Paper
  • Pen or pencil
  • Pictures of trees showing animals living in or around them (optional)
Illinois Learning Standards:
1.B Apply reading strategies to improve understanding and fluency.
4.A Listen effectively in formal and informal situations.
11.A Know and apply the concepts, principles and processes of scientific inquiry.
12.A Know and apply concepts that explain how living things function, adapt and change.
12.B Know and apply concepts that describe how living things interact with each other and with their environment.
31.A Develop a positive self-concept.
Tree: A perennial woody plant.
Trunk: The main stem of a tree, excluding branches and roots

Activity Directions:

  1. Show the children a picture of a trees and different animals that live in and around trees.
  2. Invite the children to visit a tree with you and to look for signs of who lives there or who has been there (birds, insects, mammals, people etc.).
  3. Take a clipboard, paper, and pen or pencil to record the findings.
  4. Take several magnifying glasses for closer inspection.
  5. Date your paper and record their findings under the following headings:
    • Leaves and branches
    • Trunk
    • Ground surrounding the tree
  6. Lead the children to a nearby tree – preferably one that is large. Ask them to look (and listen) for animals or signs of animal activity. Encourage children to use a magnifying glass when inspecting the ground around the tree, close-up views of the bark, and the surface of leaves.
  7. Return to the classroom and discuss the number of findings.
  8. Repeat the visit to the tree several times over the next few weeks. With each visit, look for animals and signs of animals. Record the findings and compare them to the findings of the previous visit(s).

Investigation Questions:

Q. What are the parts of a tree?
A. Trunk, branches, bark, and leaves.
Q. Who lives in or around trees?
A. Many children will say “birds”, other answers toads, snakes, insects, possum, etc.
Q. Where do the animals live in the tree?
A. Birds and squirrels live in nests. Insects live on the leaves and under the bark. Possums live in hallow trees or logs.
Q. Where do the insects live?
A. Insects can be found on the leaves, bark and at the base of the tree.

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