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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

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Supported by Generation Green

I know yew

Identify a tree in this unbe-leaf-able nature knowledge game, then head outside to see how many trees everyone recognises.

Back to Activities

You’ll need

  • Scissors
Leaf guesser and tree cards
PDF – 4.9MB
Activity Plan I Know Yew
PDF – 382.8KB

Love trees?

If you want to take your love of trees further, why not check out our partnership with the Green Tree Badge. This will give you the opportunity to engage with trees in a new way and earn external badges along the way!

Green Tree Badge

Before you begin

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help out if you’re short on helpers.
  • ou’ll be going out and about looking at trees, so make sure you have a spot of woodland or a copse of trees you can walk to nearby.
  • Check to see if you need permission to be in the area you’ve chosen and be aware of any hazards, as trees are often found near roads and open water.
  • Print and cut out the copies of the ‘Leaf guesser and tree cards’.
  • In your meeting place, set out the ‘Tree cards’ somewhere they can be seen by the whole group. You could stick them up on the walls or to a board.

Name that tree

  1. Everyone should sit or stand where they can see the ‘Tree cards’.
  2. Everyone should choose one of the trees and remember it – they shouldn't tell anyone which one they’re thinking of.
  3. The person leading the activity should choose one person to start.
  4. While remembering their own tree, everyone should think of yes or no questions that they can ask that person to help them guess which tree that person’s thinking of. For example, people could ask:
    • Does it have needles instead of leaves?
    • Does it bear fruit?
    • Does it have thorns?
    • Does it have white flowers?
  1. Everyone should take a look at the descriptions of each tree for some more specific things to ask about, such as:
    • Are the needles joined in pairs? Needles can be singular, pairs, or clusters when joined to the branch.
    • Does it have compound leaves? Compound leaves are made from smaller leaflets joined to the branch by one stalk.
    • Are the edges of the leaf serrated? Serrated leaves have pointy, saw-like teeth.
  1. As the person with the tree in mind answers questions, they’ll narrow down the possible options until the group can guess the correct tree. The person leading the activity could remove the ‘Tree cards’ that have been ruled out to make it easier to keep track of the remaining options.
  1. If a person guesses correctly, someone should replace the ‘Tree cards’ and everyone should try to guess the tree the person who guessed chose in the same way. Play a few rounds so that everyone can familiarise themselves with the trees and their characteristics.

Take it outside

  1. Everyone should go outside somewhere where there are trees and choose one to identify as a group.
  2. Everyone should use the ‘Leaf guesser’ key to ask the questions again and note the answers down on some paper. By narrowing down the options, someone should be able to guess the type of tree.
  1. Everyone should try to remember the different kinds of leaves and trees when they’re out and about.


We think that the first tree-like plants evolved around 360 million years ago. From those few early trees, thousands of species evolved and formed the varied woody giants we see today. Being able to identify different plants and trees is a great skill. It helps us to get in touch with the world around us and take time to appreciate it.

Everyone should look at or think about a tree nearby. The process for each tree in a species is the same: it grows from a seed, heads straight up, and begins to grow leaves, branches, and sometimes flowers or fruits.

Most trees essentially turn out the same. But just like us, they are in fact all different and unique. A tree will grow in its own way, reacting to changes in light, the land around it, and the other plants and animals that interact with it. The way that we react to the world around us (and the people in it) also affects how we grow and become who we are.

Just like trees, let’s try to offer help to those who need it, like the trees that shelter wildlife with branches and grow flowers and fruits to eat. Perhaps kindness and belief could be like roots that help people stand up for the things they think are right. People’s goals could be like the canopy branches that grow and climb higher and higher.


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Outdoor activities

You must have permission to use the location. Always check the weather forecast, and inform parents and carers of any change in venue.

Animals and insects

Be aware of the risks before interacting with animals. Be aware of anyone with allergies, and make alternative arrangements for them.

Gardening and nature

Everyone must wash their hands after the activity has finished. Wear gloves if needed. Explain how to safely use equipment and set clear boundaries so everyone knows what’s allowed.

Hiking and walking

Follow the guidance for activities in Terrain Zero, or the guidance for each the adventurous activity.

Near water

Manage groups carefully when near water. The guidance on activities near water will help you to keep your group safe.

Road safety

Manage groups carefully when near or on roads. Consider adult supervision and additional equipment (such as lights and high visibility clothing) in your risk assessment.

You could add or remove some trees to make this activity more or less difficult. If there are more places you can go to examine trees, everyone could put their skills to the test again.

When taking young people out and about, make sure the route you take is accessible for everyone. Try to avoid unsuitable terrain and obvious hazards and obstacles.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

You could research tree names and find out who discovered different trees and how they got their name. How many of these trees can you find in your local area?

If you have time, why not make a tree map by drawing your own map and marking any big, interesting or beautiful trees nearby? If there are lots of different types of tree, you could give each one a sign, number or letter, and create a key just like on an OS map.