Keywords: tree life cycle, ecosystem, William Shakespeare; Total Time Required: Four 45 – 60 minute sessions


The purpose of this lesson is to demonstrate understanding of the lifecycle of a tree and its importance in the forest ecosystem. Through digital photography students will identify and document the various stages of the lifecycle of a tree. Students will work cooperatively to create a multimedia presentation using Movie Maker, Powerpoint, or i-Movie to share their discoveries and learning.

Materials Needed

For each small group of students:

  • Digital camera for each small group of students.
  • Natural area to explore
  • Journal to record information
  • Access to Movie Maker, Powerpoint, i-Movie or other multimedia software
  • Handout #1, Handout #2, Handout #3

Prior to lesson
Slide show created to demonstrate the lifecycle of a living organism. A daylily or corn plant are sound choices because you can find various stages at one time.
"The Seven Ages of Man" As You Like It by William Shakespeare

Concepts to Be Covered

  • Interpreting literature
  • Connect personally to the natural world
  • Lifecycle of tree

Goals for the Lesson

Demonstrate and recognize the lifecycle of a tree in a natural setting

Students should have a basic understanding of using a digital camera. If not, please reference for introducing digital photography to students.Ask students to give examples of species they know that go through various stages of development and describe how they change. After compiling a list of plants and animals share your slide show.

Session 1 (45-60 minutes):

  1. Ask students to give examples of species they know that go through various stages of development and describe how they change. After compiling a list of plants and animals share your slide show.
  2. Discuss the changes and stages of the examples. Each example should include: birth, growth, aging and death. A discussion of injury and disease should also be included as a stage in life.
  3. Share William Shakespeare's The Seven Ages of Man to demonstrate the stages of man's life. Students can complete a quick draw of each stage using Handout #1. Discuss how man also shares the stages of life found in the natural world.
  4. Be sure to point out that physical changes exist at each stage, as well as the role each plays during the lifecycle. Discuss how this applies to the examples given.
  5. Introduce the stages of a tree's lifecycle (Handout #2) Seed, sprout, sapling, young adult, mature tree, dead tree (snag) , rotting log. Depending on the depth of instruction students can be introduced to the alternative methods of "birth" for trees which include Stump Sprout, Root Sucker, Layering
  6. Students can match the stages of the tree to their pictures from The Ages of Man. Once the teacher is confident that students can identify each stage of the lifecycle of the tree, students should be able to go out into the natural world and find examples of each.

Session 2 (45 - 60 minutes):

  1. Students will work in small groups to find examples of the various stages of a tree's life in an outside area and document each stage using the digital camera. Handout #3

Session 3 - 4: 45 - 60 minutes each

  1. Students will upload their photographs and create a multimedia presentation documenting their findings.
  2. Slides or sections should include a comparison of The Seven Ages of Man by William Shakespeare to the photographs taken in the forest.
  3. Extension: Students could write their own version of The Seven Ages of Man for their species and photographs.

Follow-Up Activity could include instruction on the role of each stage of the tree's life in the ecosystem of the forest. What plants, animals, and other organisms rely on the tree at each stage of its life. The multimedia presentations can then be revised and edited to reflect the new learning.


Student will share their multimedia presentations and explain them to the class.



Susan Howard, Avon Grove Charter School, West Grove, PA