STEM Tuesday– Survival Science — Writing Tips & Resources

One often forgets that “Species Survival” can apply to one’s very own environment. My own home is in a thickly populated area – highways, houses and apartments, stores – but nature is still here. Species Survival is more than tigers and whales. It also applies to the species we take for granted because we see them every day, including insects, small animals, native plants, and – the focus of this post – trees.

I find many of my friends have no idea what kind of trees they see and encounter. A project for classroom or life is learning to identify trees. There are lots of resources. I found this fabulous, friendly book, published in 1963, and still available. Tree Finder: A Manual for Identification of Trees by Their Leaves (Eastern US) is currently available at Indiebound. The illustrations are charming and would be very helpful to anyone wanting to learn about trees. It’s a good size to carry around with you.

Tree Finder Book

Another resource is The Sibley Guide to Trees, by David Allen Sibley. There’s a lot of reading but you can find other tree identifiers besides leaves, useful if you are looking in winter.

Sibley Guide to Trees book

The US Forest Service provides lots of technical information about the state of trees and forests. I was able to find a whole section of tree material at In addition, they have many publications for different localities. I was able to find Southern New England Forests to research trees in my own area.

Southern New England Forest Report

A fun and useful project with leaves is leaf printing. You can make paintings, wall hangings, journal pages, even tee shirts, depending on the ink you use. The basic method is to roll the ink onto a leaf and then with a brayer, spoon, press, or baren transfer the leaf pattern to the surface where you want the image.

There is plenty of information about leaf printing online, and here are some books are linked below.

An activity for both adults and kids is a tree journal or a nature journal. No particular artistic ability is needed because it can be filled with casual sketches, notes, materials pasted in. In the interest of species survival, I suggest a notebook or sketchbook made from recycled materials. Some places are listed below.

A nature notebook would follow in a long line of past documenters of nature. Beatrix Potter, the creator of Peter Rabbit, was a dedicated nature journalist. Her exceptional artwork, along with a dedication to preserving England’s rural history, has contributed to preserving the beautiful countryside in the Lake District.

The Art of Beatrix Potter book

Claire Walker Leslie has many books out on journalling. I attended a workshop with her many years ago and was greatly influenced. I have kept visual journals ever since. I highly recommend Keeping a Nature Journal, 3rd Edition: Deepen Your Connection with the Natural World All Around You. The value of keeping a journal goes beyond documenting your world, it provides a creative outlet that often helps almost as a form of meditation and contributes to mental and emotional well-being.

Keeping a Nature Journal book

Here are links to the resources above.


Tree Finder: A Manual for Identification of Trees by Their Leaves (Eastern US)

Sibley Guide to Trees

Sibley Flash Cards

*Leaf printing.

Nature print paper

Leaf print set

*Nature journalling.

The Art of Beatrix Potter: Sketches, Paintings, and Illustrations

Keeping a Nature Journal, 3rd Edition: Deepen Your Connection with the Natural World All Around You.

Earth-friendly notebooks.

Best of luck with getting to know your own locality.

Margo Lemieux is retired from teaching art at Lasell University and has been journalling most of her life.

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