Build a tree is a fun way to demonstrate how a tree functions.

Activity instructions

This activity is suitable for both small and large groups of students (and adults!).

Students are put into smaller groups as the activity progresses and take on a 'part' as listed below. No student should have more than one part.

Part 1: The trunk

2-3 people stand back to back to be the tree trunk – the strength of the tree that holds the branches and leaves upright.

Part 2: The taproots

Students sit on the floor (against the trunk) with their legs facing outwards from the base of the trunk (if you have a large group put students close together, otherwise just use 2-3 and spread them out). The taproots add stability and suck up water that is vital to the trees survival and growth.

Part 3: The lateral roots

Students lie on their backs with their feet against the trunk, growing outwards. They have root hairs (arms and hands) that reach out to suck up water. Students act out this function by waving their arms and hands and making a loud "slurp" noise.

Part 4: The xylem

Students hold hands around the trunk facing inwards. They bring water up the tree from the roots to the tips by squatting with their hands down low, then standing up to bring their hands above their heads. As they do this they make a "wheeeee" noise for the travelling water.

Part 5: The phloem

The last group of students form a circle around the xylem to make the phloem. The phloem carries food from the leaves to different parts around the tree. To act this out students wobble their hands in the air to make food and make a "whooo" noise to emphasise the food being transported around the tree.

Part 6: The bark

The rest of the group forms the bark and fends off those creatures wanting to attack the tree while everybody else continues their actions and noises all at once.

About the resource

Learning outcomes

Students take on the roles of different tree parts and learn how they work.

Curriculum links

Science: Living world
Life processes

Level 1 and 2
Recognise that all living things have certain requirements so they can stay alive.

Level 3 and 4
Recognise that there are life processes common to all living things and that these occur in different ways.

Health and physical education: Movement concepts and motor skills
Movement skills Level 2
Practice movement skills and demonstrate the ability to link them in order to perform movement sequences.

Learning levels

  • Primary


  • Forests and green spaces

Curriculum learning areas

  • Science
  • Health and PE
Back to top