Activity Snapshot: 

As things in nature grow and change, they leave evidence of that growth behind – little time capsules that you can uncover – if you know where and how to look! Animals are changing size and form and color over their lifetime. Plants grow tall very quickly, and then they grow outward over the years forming rippling growth rings!

Can you read the rings on a tree? What can those rings teach you? How have you grown or changed over time? Do you record or measure your growth? Let’s take a page from nature and measure our growth over time!


Learn about ways to measure growth in nature and create your own personal Tree-Ring Growth Chart!

Time Recommended:

30 minutes


  • Paper
  • Writing Tool (pen, pencil, colored pencils)
  • Other Art supplies as desired.


  1. Gather Inspiration!
    • Take some Nature Time to wander through a natural space.
    • Bring some paper, or a nature journal, so you can jot down anything neat you discover!
    • Relax, explore, and look for signs of growth in this space.
      • Look at any animals you see. Are there ways to tell if they are old or young?
      • Look at the plants – think about the leaves, flowers, how thick the branches are. 
      • If there are trees, imagine how big around the tree is – how many ‘rings’ might be inside?
  2. Create your Tree-Ring Growth Chart!
    • Gather your materials – a large piece of paper and some drawing materials.
    • You may need to interview family members to learn more about different times in your life.
    • At the center of your paper draw a symbol that represents you – This is the very center of your tree!

    • Draw a circle around the outside of your first symbol.  This outer ring represents your first year of life.  
    • Write along the edge of this circle something that happened in your first year of life.

    • Draw a circle around the outside of the last circle you drew.  Your tree is getting larger!  This represents year 2. 
    • Add a special event, using words and/or symbols.

    • Continue these steps until you reach present day.
    • For example, if you are 10, you will have 10 circles!

    • Your outermost ring should be thicker. It represents the bark outside of a tree, protecting it.
    • Add color to your Tree-Ring Growth Chart!
    • You can even add symbols and color outside of your tree ring.

Optional Challenge:

  • Choose a species of tree that you like.
  • Examples could be your state tree, or the species of a tree in your yard.
  • Do research into your tree species to answer these questions:
    • What is the species scientific name?
    • How long does this species live?
    • How tall does this species grow?
  • Share what you learn in writing, drawings, photos, or a combination!

Closing Questions:

  1. What are some ways to measure growth in the natural world?  What about in yourself?
  2. How can learning about the past, and how we’ve grown, help us in the future?
  3. Where do you want to go (and GROW!) from here?  What are a few things you can start today, to help your next tree ring be large, full of growth and amazing memories?

Share with your Community:

When you complete your Tree-Ring Growth Chart, you can share it with your family, friends, and the Chewonki Community!  Decorate and customize your Growth Chart, make it your own!  Make sure that you feel comfortable before sharing your Growth Chart, because it will be full of personal stories and information.

If you and your family would like to share your Tree-Ring Growth chart, submit it to be displayed in our community galleries online! Your chart, or your tree research could be published in an end of summer edition of the Chronicle!

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