PRIME TIME WITH KIDS: It’s tree time — celebrate Arbor Day

By Donna Erickson

It’s tree time. Arbor Day comes up on April 27, a calendar reminder to set your sights upward and appreciate the beauty of trees large and small.

Most of us have recollections of a special tree in a back yard, park or forest. What better time to make more family memories with nature’s giants than on a national tree holiday that has been observed since 1872.

Here are some easy-to-do activities and ideas:


Sometimes favorite trees are blown down by severe winds or they need to be cut down because of age and disease. This past year, the wild oak that shaded our Santa Cruz, California, mountain cabin on summer days crashed on our deck during a torrential storm. Soon after, a pine and an ash, both reaching for the sky after decades of growth in our Minnesota front yard and backyard, had to be cut down.

Sad to see our trees removed, I asked the tree guys to cut a few “slices” from the trunks with their professional chainsaws. Now, favorite tree “souvenirs” are enjoyed as woodsy chargers at an outdoor dinner table. They also make rustic table centerpieces topped with little items such as a bird’s nest, moss, acorns and votive candle.

A wood slice (available for purchase online and at craft stores) or the tree stump, can be a teaching tool, too. Look closely at the rings and count them (use a magnifying glass, if helpful). Each ring, beginning with the outer edge, represents a year of the life of the tree. The ring next to the bark is the youngest, and the smallest center ring is the oldest. Most trees grow quickly when they are young, so smaller rings tend to be wide. As they age, rings become narrower.

For fun, make tiny paper pennants and pin them to the ring of each child’s and adult’s birth year. Like a timeline, add pin markers for special family events, too.


Are you expecting a new baby in the house? Plant a tree and celebrate life with life. Watch the tree grow over the years along with your child. Ask for tips for proper planting and long-term care at your local gardening center.


At mealtime, talk about and name the trees in your yard and neighborhood. Is there an oak, pine, ash or maple? Make a list of all the things that trees provide, from shade in the summer to the table you are sitting around.

For more family activities, check out


Donna Erickson’s award-winning series “Donna’s Day” is airing on public television nationwide. To find more of her creative family recipes and activities, visit and link to the NEW Donna’s Day Facebook fan page. Her latest book is “Donna Erickson’s Fabulous Funstuff for Families.”

© 2018 Donna Erickson; Distributed by King Features Syndicate


PRIME TIME WITH KIDS: It’s tree time — celebrate Arbor Day–