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Arborsleuth Program Resources

Recommended Reading:

Common Native Trees of Virginia 
by the Virginia Department of Forestry
Grades: NA
Lexile Level: analyzed at 800L-900L

Selected because: 
Dichotomous key to common Virginia native trees (shrub version also available). Key refers to additional information about the trees, including size, habitat, structure, facts, and uses. 
Can be purchased from the Virginia Department of Forestry store, or download a fee PDF (also available from the VDOF store.

Suggested activities:
Identify trees in the schoolyard or collect specimens from home to ID. Non-native (exotic) trees will not be in the key, however after students become comfortable with using the key – perhaps they could make a key for their schoolyard.

Pair with Seeing Trees to give the technical vocabulary meaning.

Perhaps calculate “value” of the trees in terms of lumber or other values and uses, or even carbon sequestration.

Seeing Trees by Nancy Ross Hugo photography by Robert Llewellyn    
Grades: NA
Lexile Level: NA

Selected because: 
Lovely photographs of all parts of trees 
Excellent compliment to tree identification – visual focus on parts of the tree helps to clarify arboreal vocabulary.

Suggested activities:
Art connection: collect fallen or broken pieces to carefully observe and record (sketch, paint, scupt, photography). Pair with Common Native Trees of Virginia for vocabulary and other details.

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate photography by Robert Llewellyn    
Grades: 3-6th
Lexile Level: 590L

Selected because: 
Uses fantasy to describe interdependency in a tree community. 
Ties a tree into human society and addresses social issues. 

Suggested activities:
List animals in the book, create a web of interdependence.
Each animal and tree species has its own naming protocol. Discuss and have students choose and justify their own naming protocol and name. 
Have a wishtree day. Select a tree in the school yard to be a wishtree (perhaps have campaigns for different trees). Record wishes on biodegradable materials (color coded for items wanted wishes, silly wishes, people to people wishes and so on). Wishes should be recorded on materials that can be used by wildlife/decay. 

Champion: the Comeback Tale of the American Chestnut Tree 
by Sally M Walker
Grades: 5-9
Lexile Level: 1070L

Selected because: Excellent and thorough treatment of the human and natural history of the American Chestnut tree (including economic role) in extremely accessible language. Describes three different restoration efforts (backcrossing, genetic manipulation, and viral manipulation) in an understandable and thorough way. 

Suggested activities:
Chapters 1 & 2 discuss the history and economics of this tree. Students can create a timeline of events mentioned 
in the text and add others from American history. The timeline can be extended through the remainder of the book 
to cover the history of restoration efforts. Timelines are sometimes represented as rings on a tree, which could be 
a nice visual. 

Specific economic uses are listed in chapter 2. Make a list of the uses of a chestnut tree, research each use and describe modern parallels. Crossover into mathematics: calculate the value of the tree for each use and adjust for modern inflation. How valuable could an acre of healthy chestnut trees be? 

Scientific literacy: three different efforts to save the American chestnut are described in chapters 4-7. Make pro/con tables for each method, and have students select a method to defend in a debate or persuasive writing piece.