Go on a Conifer Quest

Conifer Quest

Learn about conifers, or evergreen trees, by making a Conifer Quest board.

What You Need

  • Cardboard, a piece big enough to hold a few conifer sprigs
  • Conifer Quest print-out (optional)
  • Conifer trees
  • Marker
  • Pencil or crayon (optional)
  • A long ruler (optional)
  • Scissors or hole-punch
  • Tree field guide (optional)
  • Twist ties, one per conifer sprig

What You Do

  1. Print out the Conifer Quest sheets.
    Pines, spruces, cedars, and their relatives make up an important tree familly. They’re conifers (CON-uh-furs), trees with cones to hold their seeds.
    Most conifers have special leaves that are narrow and pointed like needles or are flat like scales. And most are evergreens–they stay green all year round.
    If you would like a worksheet to do this activity, try our Meet the Conifers worksheet from Ranger Rick’s Nature Notebook.
  2. If you’d like to make a Conifer Quest display board, get a large piece of cardboard.
    With scissor or a hole punch, make two small holes every six inches or so. Push a twist tie through the holes. Now you have a place to put your conifer sprigs as you find them.
  3. Search around your neighborhood for different conifer trees.
    No matter where you live, there are sure to be some conifers nearby. To figure out who’s who in the conifer family, you’ll need to answer these questions.

    1. Needles or scales? Does the tree have thin needles or flattened scale-like leaves?
    2. Single or bundles? If the tree has needles, do they come out of the stem one by one? Or are they bundled together in groups?
    3. What shape? If you roll the needle between your fingers, does it feel found, flat or square-shaped?
    4. Kinds of cones? Look for some cones on the tree or on the ground beneath it. Are they big or small? Long and thin, short and round, or some other shape?
      If you are making a Conifer Quest board, snip off a tiny sprig from each different tree you find, or even better, pick up a sprig from the ground that is still green.
  4. Attach each sprig to your Conifer Quest board.
    Place the sprig inside the twist tie and twist it tight.
  5. Use a tree field guide or website to identify your conifer.
    Write the conifer’s name underneath the tree sprig.
  6. Just for fun, check out this song about conifers.
    The band named “They Might Be Giants” have a very funny song about conifer trees, called “C is for Conifers.” You can see it in their Arbor Day show. It starts at the one minute mark.