Lesson Plan

Tree Ring Activity

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Grade Level:
Third Grade-Fifth Grade
Archaeology, Biology: Plants, Climate Change, Social Studies
National/State Standards:
AZ State Standards: SS03-S1C1-02, SS04-S1C1-04, SC04-S1C4-01, SC04-S6C2-06, SS05-S1C1-05, SC05-S1C4-01.


In this activity students will learn about tree rings and how archaeologists use them to help date archaeological sites and artifacts.


Guiding Questions: What are tree rings? How are tree rings used to determine the age of archaeological sites?

Lesson Objectives: Students will...

  • Understand how trees grow and why growth rings are formed.
  • Describe how climate and weather affects the growth of tree rings.
  • Explain the age of a tree by its rings. 
  • Understand how ring patterns can be used to determine the age of archaeological sites.


See downloadable .pdf under the materials section.



  • Background information
  • Scissors, tape
  • Tree core sequences, tree core sequence example
  • Worksheet questions
  • Answer Key



To assess learning students will complete the included worksheet questions.

Additional Resources

This lesson plan was developed by Brian Crosby, archaeology graduate student at Northern Arizona University.

Last updated: February 24, 2015