Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students are instructed in how to view trees as a guide to story structures and how to use trees and wildlife as characters in stories from their local environment to celebrate Schools Tree Day. They use trees as both metaphor and subject for crafting a narrative, using their creativity and their connections to native wildlife.

This lesson is an ideal way for students to engage with Planet Ark’s Schools Tree Day – the largest nature-care event in Australian schools. You and your students will join thousands of amazing teachers in making a difference, fostering a child’s love of nature and creating positive environmental change. So, get growing! It only takes a minute to register for Schools Tree Day.


Learning Intentions:

  • Students describe and explain qualities about local trees and wildlife 
  • Students plan, create, edit and publish a story about a tree in the local environment

21st-century skills: 

CommunicatingCreative ThinkingCritical Thinking  

Australian Curriculum Mapping (Ver. 9.0)

Content descriptions: 

Year 4:

Year 5:

Year 6:

NSW Syllabus outcomes: EN2-2A, EN3-2A, GE2-1, GE2-2, GE3-1, GE3-2

General Capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Literacy

Cross-curriculum Priority: Sustainability – Systems (SS1)

Topic: Schools Tree Day; Biodiversity

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work Schools Tree Day – Primary

Time required: 120 minutes.

Level of teacher scaffolding: High – Facilitate explicit teaching and guide students through independent observations and writing. Some students may require additional literacy support.

Resources required:

  • Pens and paper per student
  • Devices for taking photos – OPTIONAL
  • Student Worksheet – as needed per student.

Keywords: Schools Tree Day, trees, story, stories, native wildlife, connection.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ...describe and explain qualities about local trees and wildlife 
  • ...plan, create, edit and publish a story about a tree in the local environment

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ...use trees as inspiration and as a structure for developing a narrative.
  • ...craft descriptions of trees based on observation of their qualities and relationship to their environment.
  • independently or in-pairs to write, draw and reflect.

Teacher content information:

We recommend taking your own walk around the school or local environment prior to this lesson to get a feel for the types and locations of trees and potential wildlife connections. You may want to select one location for your students to use or offer them some choices where trees are abundant. They will need to choose a tree that they think has a ‘story’ to tell and see it up close and from afar.  

Students can work individually or in pairs to select a tree,

- or - to view worksheets

Student Worksheet

Thought starter: A tree’s root system roughly spreads 1.5 times the size of the tree.

Part A - Gathering your roots (Observations)

1. Take your time to look at different trees and imagine the stories they could tell. Which one captures your interest? Observe and describe

•  its shape (look at the trunk and branches)

•  its height and possible age

•  its colours and seasonal changes (changes that happen from summer to autumn, autumn to winter, winter to spring, spring to summer)

•  the texture of its bark and leaves

•  any creatures that may be connecting with the tree

2. Consider the key challenges and connections your tree might have. Use your imagination! What voices and emotions could you use? How might these be central elements of your story

  • You might like to make a sketch of the shape or a feature of your tree. Or take a photo if you have an available device.

Part B - Grow your Story Tree (Write a story)

Now you will combine your observations and imagina

- or - to view worksheets

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