Harve and Ester: The Harvesters


Trees have been very important to mankind for thousands of years. Look around you and chances are you will see several products made from trees. Trees can produce anything from food to household items to paper to hard wood products. Hardwood trees such as maple and oaks are often used for furniture and floors and softwood (coniferous) trees are often used for building houses and making paper. Just about every part of a tree can be used for something useful. Trees contain a compound called cellulose that helps provide the tree with rigidity and support. The cellulose is extracted and used in many products including some ice creams and syrups, plastic bottles, film, and rayon clothing. Tree resin can be used to make soaps and varnishes, and cork, astringent lotions, and medicines can be extracted from the bark or leaves of a tree. Tree fruits and nuts can produce spices, juices, and dyes.

Trees are a renewable resource (a material that can be replenished through natural and/or human processes). It is, however, important to remember that renewable resources such as trees need to be carefully managed so numbers do not dwindle and species become extinct (gone forever). Silviculture is the practice forest managers use to manage and cultivate a forest. Trees are harvested and young trees are replanted or naturally re-seeded on the land in which they were harvested. People need trees and trees need people! If we are going to cut down trees we need to remember 4 important things: 1. We need to have a very good reason; 2. We need to preserve old growth trees and carefully plan where we will cut trees down for products we need; 3. We need to use as much of the tree as possible to eliminate waste; and 4. We need to REPLANT.

What can we do to slow the need for rapid tree harvesting? Be an environmentally aware and conscious citizen! We will always have a need for tree products, but we can be aware of ways to REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE. Look around at the tree products in your life and think about ways to use alternate products not made from trees, find ways to reuse tree products without throwing them away, and recycle tree products so they can be remade into new products. If we all work together, we can protect and preserve our old-growth forests, we can prevent trees from becoming over harvested, and we can help make our environment a cleaner and healthier place to live.

Harve and Ester’s Tree Company

Indoor Any Season

To provide students with the opportunity to learn how much we depend on trees in our daily lives.

You'll need:

  • An assortment of about 20 tree products from your everyday world (try to collect both ordinary products as well as those that students might not know about)
  • Boxes with lids or old socks or pillow cases (one for each tree product gathered so product can be touched, smelled, and heard but not seen or eaten), label each with a number
  • Work sheet for each student with the container numbers and blank lines for guessing the tree product hidden inside each container

Use the Treetures, Harve and Ester, as guides, icons or symbols to help animate and enhance your tree product lesson. Harve and Ester are Harvesters who make products out of wood. However, they understand the importance of this precious renewable resource and, therefore, help plant new trees where grown trees have been cut down.

Tree Product Detectives

Share the book, When Dad Cuts Down The Chestnut Tree by Pam Ayres and brainstorm a list of everyday products that come from trees. Keep a list. Let students know that they are going to have the opportunity to become tree detectives today. Explain that they will be relying on only three of their five senses to make their predictions-touch, smell, and sound. Have the students touch, smell, and shake each of the containers with the tree products and make their predictions next to the corresponding numbers on their papers. After each student has completed his/her predictions, have the students return to their seats and one by one in order reveal the tree products. This would be an excellent time to discuss how many parts of a tree are used to make products: bark, leaves, nuts/fruits, cellulose, resin or gum, and the wood. Have the students keep track of how many they guessed correctly. Discuss which were the easiest to figure out and which were the most difficult. Add these tree products to your original brainstorming list to be used later.

Challenge students to go home and find one interesting product in their home made from a tree. Encourage them to look on labels to see if they see the word "cellulose".

Riddle Me This

Have students each choose one tree product either from your brainstorming list or one of their own (do NOT let them share their products with one another). Students should come up with descriptive words for their products in each of the following categories (you could turn this into a lesson on synonyms and encourage students to use a thesaurus to find new words to replace their common words) :

Students should then write a riddle about their tree products using the following format:

I am (size), (color), (shape), (texture), (odor), (general use). What am I?

Have students share their riddles and see if the class can guess the correct tree product.

Harve and Ester Tree Product Poster

Have students work in teams to create posters entitled: Trees Need People and People Need Trees! Students need to depict tree products people use (maybe through a collage of tree product pictures from magazines or attaching containers and packaging from tree products or through their own art work) and the things people can do to help take care of trees (reduce, reuse, recycle and replant). Use large colorful cut-outs of Harve and Ester on the posters for added fun.

*The Treeture characters, as learning tools, can be adapted to any grade level. For example, students in grades K-1 could utilize coloring pages, finger puppets, and collages. Stories, poems, creation of new Treeture characters, newsletters, and plays could be fun and used as mentoring projects by 5th and 6th graders for younger students. Another entertaining and educational activity is to hold a Treeture Fair. This project has been successfully implemented in several schools. Each Treeture character can be enlarged and placed on an easel on a table with an appropriate experiment or example of its tree role.


  • Take the list of tree products you have brainstormed as a class, and categorize them under the following categories: REUSE (discuss how product could be used again rather than thrown away), RECYCLE (discuss how products can be recycled), REDUCE (discuss non-tree products that could be used instead of these products and still fulfill the same job).
  • There are many foods that are made from tree products. Read the book, The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall and use the recipe in the back to make your own delicious apple pie. Another fun book to tie in a geography lesson is, How To Make An Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman.

Totally True Treeture Trivia

More than 5,000 products are made from trees, either using wood in it’s natural state or a by-product. The Tree Trunk, Georgia-Pacific Activities Kit.

Suggested Readings:

  • Project Learning Tree PreK-8 Activity Guide,www.plt.org, 202-463-2462
  • The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall
  • How To Make An Apple Pie and See the World Marjorie Priceman
  • The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree by Gail Gibbons
  • Be A Friend To Trees by Patricia Lauber
  • The Wump World by Bill Peet