Activity 4: Life Cycle of Trees

A green tree with blue arrows circling around it.

The Circle of Life is a very precious and delicate cycle. We all go through it even large plants like trees! Let’s take a closer look at what the Life Cycle of a Tree looks like.

First let’s define Life Cycle: A Life Cycle (noun) is “The series of stages through which a living thing passes from the beginning of its life until its death” (~Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks).


Tree Life Cycle

  1. Trees start out small like you and I, with just a single seed.

    • When the seed germinates (begins to grow and develop) in the soil, it begins to sprout out shoots (roots) to anchor the little tree to the ground.

  2. The soil in the ground provides the tree with nutrients and water and before long a tiny leaf shoots out from the ground, and the tree begins developing as a seedling.
    *Note: Due to the lack of development and protection, seedlings have a high “mortality rate” of being eaten or from disease.
  3. The next stage in the cycle is the sapling (Juvenile; young) stage.
    • If the tree survived from predation or disease, then it most likely has grown to be around 1-4 inches in diameter and about the small size you would see at your local nursery.
    • The tree is not mature enough to reproduce (create a new tree from a seed).
  4. Once, the tree matures it will continue to grow and each species of tree will grow to different heights and in different soil environments.
    • Each tree will flower during the proper season
    • Produce fruit
    • Reproduce (disperse [release] seeds back into the environment).
  5. Even at the end of a tree’s life, its purpose is still not done.
    • When a tree dies, also called a snag
    • It provides shelter and food for wildlife along with returning nutrients back into the soil as it breaks down
    • A New Tree Cycle begins!

Refer to the diagram below:

Diagram of the different stages of the tree life cycle.

Tree Life Cycle Diagram created by Intern Kelly Savannah.

Yellow and purple theatre faces and a black & white film clapper.

Activity: Act out the Life Cycle of a Tree

This fun and interactive activity allows the youth to really dive into their artistic skills to act out the Life Cycle of a Tree. It is fun for all ages. So, kids, gather your friends and family and put on a play, called The Life Cycle of a Tree!


  1. Seed: Crouch down on ground with hands over your head…. little tiny seed on the ground.
  2. Seed begins to sprout: Dig your roots (toes) down into the ground, and send up leaves (fingers, then arms) towards the are still small.
  3. Seedling: Begin to grow taller, extend branches (arms), spread out roots (Legs & feet).
  4. Spire-top: Stand up and make the pointed spire-top shape with your arms.
  5. Round-top: Change your arms to a rounded shape, widen your trunk (body) and crown (Neck & head).
  6. Toppling at an old age: All fall down! ...(snag): Decompose and help feed the seedlings that are sprouting on the forest floor!

Last updated: December 10, 2022

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