Title: Signs of Change: Studying Tree Rings
Grade Level: 4-8
Source: Climate Change North

Curriculum Materials:
Protocol (PDF)


  • Learn about dendrochronology
  • Study tree rings to determine growth over time
  • Investigate possible reasons for poor growth years
  • Connect tree growth to climate


  • Increment borer or saw (for core samples or cross-sections)
  • Grooved core holders
  • Paper
  • Dissecting microscope or magnifying glasses
  • Dendrochronolog sheets (provided)
  • Graph Paper
  • Pencils

This exercise was designed for northern Canada, but it can easily be adapted to any region in New England. The only real difference is in where to get local weather information.

In discussion, students will learn about the relationships between climate change and trees, and hypothesize what they might find in examining tree rings, and why.

Students will learn about the principles of dendrochronology, and sample local trees to determine age and what years had poor growing conditions. Students will record, analyze, and graph their data, and compare them with local weather records for the years covered.


State Framework relevance: