Winter | Plants: Pre-K and Kindergarten

Tree Time: Coniferous Versus Deciduous 

Summary: Did you know that there are two main types of trees? One is called coniferous and the other deciduous. In winter, it’s easier to spot the difference between the two. Can you? 

Before Visiting the Garden: 

  • Gather: Notebook, pencil, magnifying glass, and a map of the United States.
  • Explore: A View of the Mountain Pass Called the Notch of the White Mountains by Thomas Cole. Can you spot two types of trees in this picture?
  • Read: Leaves by David Ezra Stein

In the Garden: 

Sometimes, it takes the absence of color and greenery to more clearly see the differences in the plants around us. There are two main types of trees that we see in our neighborhoods, coniferous—trees that have cones, such as a pine tree, and long thin leaves known as needles––and deciduous—trees that have broad leaves that they lose during the fall. 

Questions to Explore:

  • Look at your map. What part of the country do you live in? There are more conifers in the west and more deciduous in the east.
  • Describe the trees in and around your garden.
  • Can you find any pine cones or needles on the ground? To what tree do they belong? 
  • Do you see any leaves on trees or on the ground? Do they look the same or different than the needles? 


    1. Deciduous trees are often associated with good soil because it takes so many nutrients for the trees to regrow leaves each season. Let’s explore our neighborhood and try to determine if the soil is rich or rocky.
    2. Take your notebook, pencil, and camera on a hike around the neighborhood and garden.
    3. Create two columns in your notebook, one for each tree type, and make a mark in either column for each tree you find in the neighborhood.
    4. You can also document the different types of trees by drawing their shapes and using a magnifying glass to explore the different characteristics of each tree type. 
    5. At the end of your walk, tally up your tree columns. Do you have more coniferous or deciduous trees? From your numbers, can you guess what kind of soil is in your neighborhood?

 Beyond the Garden | Explore Your Family Tree 

Talk with your growing gardener about your family history and roots. Bring out family photos or mementos that have stories and spend time learning about the fun things that make you a family. Remember, families come in all shapes and sizes. A family is the people you go through life with and it is always good to remind growing gardeners of how many people love and care for them. 

Continue Exploring | Supporting Materials

Tree ID:

Note for Parents:
Each lesson suggests you explore a piece of artwork and read a specific book with your child. The artwork and books are easily available for view with an online search. However, these suggestions are not necessary to complete the lessons.

Guiding Principles


Learning, though not always visible, is always happening. The lessons are designed using inquiry as a base. Rather than “right answers” be more concerned with asking good questions.


Things may not go as planned. The lessons are designed to be used in whatever way works best for you. You can use all of the lesson or just pull a piece out of it.


Planting and cultivating a garden is believing in possibility. The lessons are designed to generate excitement about the future.


Each lesson includes a way to take the learning out into the community for more learning and more connection.


When a young child’s innate curiosity is unleashed in a garden the possibilities are endless. Any topic is open for exploration.


You will get dirty. There will be bugs.