Do all trees feel different?

By Jon Attwood

The Basic Idea

In a woodland or space with plenty of trees working in pairs one person carefully guides their blindfolded partner to a nearby tree. They are given time to explore the texture, size and features of their tree. They are then led back to the starting point and with the blindfold removed they are asked to try and re-find their tree and check for the key features they could feel. Partners swap roles and repeat.

The leader should demonstrate with someone the safe method of leading a blindfolded partner (slowly and with a hand on wrist and elbow) and discuss potential hazards. The leader should make it clear that people are not led through areas with nettles, brambles and trip hazards.

There needs to be enough trees within a short distance (10 -20 meters) from an agreed starting point for all the group in pairs to be able to find a separate tree.

Once blindfolds are on you can turn your partner round to make it harder. Then lead them to a tree you have chosen and when there ask them to spend time exploring the bark, girth of the tree and where the branches are and maybe what the leaves feel like if they can reach any. Then lead them back to the starting point.

You may need to give your partner some hot and cold clues in finding their tree. Get them to re-explore the tree they guess to check if it feels like it is the right one.

Swap over and repeat.

If time come back together in a circle and get the group to share their experiences with each other - see if everyone can remember and describe the texture of the bark on their tree and any other features.

How to take it even further or make it more challenging

This can be a great start to learning about trees and how the bark and feel and shape of leaves vary between different species of tree. Take out some field guides such as Field Study Centre fold out guides on trees and learn more about the trees growing in the space you are in. This can then lead on to exploring the visual variations as well in terms of the bark, buds, leaves, seeds, etc