Posts Tagged ‘outdoor tips’

The Sense of Wonder: Going Outdoors with Kids

From Super Nature Adventures:

2017-05-07-07-07-03It used to be that whenever we went hiking as a family, we were all “Go Go Go”. Did having a kid stop us? No way! We’d strap him into a backpack carrier and head on our way no matter how long the trail.  We were those people who’d brag about how far our kid hiked with us. Four miles, six miles… “oh, he’s good,” we’d say!

Then…well, then he grew too big for us to carry him.

There was whining. There were fits. Sometimes he’d seem tired one moment and be running the next. Or he would do something that seemed designed to unnerve us. One time, he just took off running in the direction of the trailhead as fast as he could. Another time he sat down on the trail and wouldn’t budge.

A while back, we sent out a survey to families about hiking that revealed that the kinds of challenges we were having are pretty much the norm. Lots of you shared stories about your kid rebelling while on the trail. As many of you noted, even if you are committed to getting outdoors, when kids revolt, going hiking with them can feel like a really big slog.

So…What to do about it? 
One resource that has helped us is Rachel Carson’s book, The Sense of Wonder. Carson is someone who is known as one of the founders of the modern environmentalist movement. As such, she has spent much of her career devoted to forging closer connections between people and the outdoors. The Sense of Wonder is great because in that book she focuses on the importance of nature for kids.

Here are a few of our favorite tips from The Sense of Wonder:

  1. “A child’s world is free and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement.”  Kids see nature differently than adults. Often, our own sense of wonder has faded or even disappeared over the years. Carson argues that the one of the simplest things we can do to support kids is to rediscover our own sense of awe and share in their joy when they are excited about what they find out in nature.
  2. “Many children, perhaps because they themselves are small and closer to the ground than we, notice and delight in the small and inconspicuous.” While adults tend to be destination oriented, kids tend often get excited about the beauties in the world that we miss because, as Carson writes, “we look to hastily.”
  3. “It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate.” Carson argues that kids must have a desire to learn first, and that our goals as parents should be to build that desire. Or to put in another way, early childhood is the time to “prepare the soil” for the “seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom.”
  4. “Exploring nature with your child is largely a matter of becoming receptive to what lies all around you. It is learning again to use your eyes, ears, nostrils and fingertips, opening up the disused channels of sensory impression.” We don’t need to be experts on nature to help our kids forge a closer connection to the outdoors. We do need to use our senses.
  5. Through these actions we can learn as much from our kids about the outdoors as they can learn from us. Children can help us strengthen our own sense of awe. For Carson, this is deeply significant. “Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life,” she writes. Through our sense of awe we find ourselves more connected to something beyond ourselves.

Carson’s advice has helped us to think about hiking from the kids’s perspective. We’ve put a lot of these ideas to work as we’ve been creating our monthly trail packets for Super Nature Adventures.  But you don’t have to only apply this advice to trails. Whether you are hiking with your child to a waterfall, or walking with them to the store, supporting a sense of wonder can help to deepen their connection to the outdoors.
~ Bryna

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Tips for Teaching Groups Outdoors

Teaching kids outside is a great time. It can be a fun day of exploring and learning about the natural world. But if leading a group outdoors gives you anxiety, here are a few helpful tips from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology BirdSleuth program that can help you out.

 

Outdoor Teaching Tips

What’s Keeping you Inside? Tips for Leading Groups Outdoors

By Barbara Jacobs-Smith K-12 Education Team Resident Teacher Advisor
This blog is the first in our series on Outdoor Education.

As teachers and leaders of young people, I think we have an obligation to take children outside to learn whenever it’s practical to do so, even if it takes us out of our comfort zone. Whether you’re a seasoned outdoor educator or new to taking groups outside, here are some general tips and techniques that can make leading a group in the great outdoors a positive, successful, and rewarding experience for everyone.

 

1. Plan ahead

As the leader, it is very important that you feel comfortable and confident. Before you go out with the kids, go out by yourself and scout the area. Walk the trail or explore the habitat. Consider where you’ll stop, how long you’ll spend, what features are noteworthy, and concepts that are applicable to the area. What questions can you pose to children, what activities lend themselves to the area, and how will you encourage structured interaction with nature? Make note of any potential hazards. Spending some quiet reflective time in the space you’ll be using can help make it feel like an extension of your own classroom and increase your comfort level teaching there.

2. Set clear expectations

Very young birders are

You no doubt have established expectations for student behavior in your classroom. It’s just as important to do this for the outdoors. Rather than a long list of rules, each starting with, “NO” (No talking, No running, No pushing, No interrupting), keep the list short and positive. “Stay on the trail. Remain with the group. Use materials responsibly.” Spell out the specific guidelines for the group when moving from one place to the next. This can be as simple as explaining that the group must travel as a sandwich. The leader is one slice of bread. Whoever is at the end of the line is designated as the other slice of bread. Everyone else is the yummy fixings that make up the sandwich. We must stay between the two slices of bread because we can’t have our sandwich falling apart!

3. Be a scientist

Third grade students making observations in the field.

When in the field, students should behave as the scientists they are, collecting data, making observations, whatever it is that you are expecting them to do, and doing so in a manner that is serious and focused on the task. It helps if students understand the purpose of their being outdoors. “You act differently when you’re outside for recess than you do when you’re outside for science.” Before you take the group outdoors, lead a discussion with students about specifically how it should look, feel, and sound differently.

4. Stealth mode

There is a time and place for quiet discussion and conversation between scientists working in the field. There is also a time for silence. When you are traveling along a path or through an area, it is far more likely that you’ll observe animals there if everyone is as quiet as mice, owls, or ants. You can call it moving in “stealth mode.” If animals hear a large group of people lumbering along, they will clear out, reducing the chance of seeing the creatures that live in that habitat. Students should understand when they hear you announce, “We are now in stealth mode,” this means silence is in order. Use your vision now instead of your voice.

5. Send them off, but bring them back

Sometimes, an outdoor trip involves giving children instruction and then sending them off to explore or complete an activity. To do this, you must be sure that: a.) you have their attention as you give instruction, b.) when it’s time, you can get everyone to come back to you quickly and easily, and c.) you know that everyone is back. When you send children off to find or do something, in order to bring them back to you quickly and efficiently, establish a “signal word.” As soon as they hear the word, students must stop what they are doing and return to you as quickly as it is safely possible. The word “magnet” works well. You can tell them that when they hear you say “magnet” they magically turn into pieces of metal, and you become a magnet; they will immediately become strongly “attracted” and have to return to you as quickly as they can. Finally, count your group regularly. You can pair children up to help them keep track of each other. “Do you see your buddy?” Make sure you know how many kids you are meant to have and always have that many. No more. No less.

6. Have what you need and know what you don’t

The

Before you go outside, think carefully about what you are going to do and what you want to accomplish, so you know exactly what materials you are going to want to bring. When it’s time to leave the building, be sure you have everything you need gathered together and ready to go. The less materials and equipment students have to carry in their hands the better. If there are items children must have in order to do an activity, carry a backpack or, if the terrain allows, pull a wagon containing that equipment. If you plan to make trips into the field on a regular basis and there are certain pieces of equipment you want children to have each time they are outdoors, you may want to find a local business that has cloth bags with their logo on them. Ask for a donation of enough bags for every student (or groups of two or three), being sure to explain your desire to take students outside for science, and perhaps the compelling reasons for doing so. If you’re successful in getting the donation, be sure to follow up with a written thank you for the business to post. Are you short on clipboards for kids to use outside? Make clipboards out of a piece of cardboard or old personal-sized white boards with binder clips at the top and a rubber band at the bottom to secure paper to the “board.” Be sure to take plenty of extra pencils in case of loss or breakage. What you are unlikely to have when in the field is access to a bathroom. If that is the case, it is important to remind everyone (no matter what their age) to use the restroom. Making a stop at the bathrooms on your way out of the building can eliminate (no pun intended) emergencies that can bring you in from the field before you’ve accomplished your goals.

7. Bring along technology

Apps like Merlin are a great tool to help with identification of birds and other species

If you have a smartphone, you can turn it into a terrific resource with the use of one or more of the handy apps (some of which are available for free) that can help when trying to identifying unknown species and/or answering puzzling questions. (Free apps to ID: birds – Merlin; trees – VTree. Check the app store for free or Lite versions of field guides specific to your state or area.) A camera is an excellent tool to use when documenting what students are doing, capturing candid photos of them at work, “collecting” samples of what was observed, documenting unknown species for identification later, and video recording their “process.”

8. Know it’s good not to know all the answers

Nature journals can help give focus to a trip outdoors.

Don’t let a concern about not knowing the name of every plant or animal species you might see or the answers to all the possible questions kids might ask keep you inside. On the contrary, embrace the teachable moments that exist if you don’t know everything. These are priceless! Not knowing everything gives you authentic opportunities to

model for kids exactly how to find the answers. If someone asks a question to which you don’t know the answer, tell the group, “That’s a terrific question. Let’s write it down to research later.” This demonstrates to students that you’re a learner right along with them.   With some thought and careful planning, you can successfully lead groups of children outdoors safely and provide a positive and enriching experience for them and for yourself. You will be able to bring nature alive for students, and give them the authentic experiences that will start them questioning and wondering about the world around them! Happy trails! Barbara

This blog is Part 1 of a series around engaging and teaching students outside. Click here for Part 2: Creating an Outdoor Classroom and here for Part 3: Citizen Science in Your Outdoor Classroom . You can also watch our video “Nature Walks: Five Steps to Success” below. 

 

Dirty Kid, Clean House

With all the emphasis being put on children spending time outdoors there’s one major deterrent that hasn’t been addressed: dirt.

Yes, this can be the downside to playing outside, your kids covered in mud, sand, or grass, and then tracking all of it though the house you just spent hours cleaning. We understand your aversion, but have no fear there is a way to have both. A win-win situation where your kids can have all the outdoor fun they want and you can keep the dirt outside. Let this educator and mother show you how in her blog article.

On Embracing Messy Play

By   August 23, 2016

tips to embrace messy play outside

Getting kids outside is a challenge! We live in a dynamic, fast-paced world driven by technology, and our children’s lives are more scheduled than ever. Much of this comes out of the necessity to accommodate demanding work schedules. The consequence is a significant decline in the amount children play, specifically outside.

Exposing children to nature-based play experiences is essential to providing a balanced childhood. It gives children an outlet and a space that isn’t driven by preconceived ideas. There are no solutions, no goals, no levels, only simple objects, and space. The space I refer to is both physical and mental. You don’t need a lot of physical space to provide for quality mental space.

The most common concern I hear about nature-based play is that it is dirty and messy. The beautiful thing about outdoor play is that you can clean it up with very little effort; in most cases, water is all you need.

How To Keep The Mess Outside

Here’s my action plan for quickly cleaning up five little people every day:

How To Set Up A Clean Up Bin Outdoors For Messy Play

Step One: Gather a couple of towels – one for the ground and one for the body.

Step Two: Set up a clean up medium size bin/bucket. My favourite bin in terms of durability, longevity, and versatility is a Rubbermaid Roughneck 10 gal bin. This bin will be the key to keeping the unwanted elements of outdoor play outside.

Step Three: Fill about halfway with warm water instead of using hose water.  When I fill my bin, I tend to fill it on the slightly hot side as it will be sitting for some time before I use it. If you have the ability to fill right before you need it, you only need to use warm water.

This strategy is particularly important for kids who are not enthusiastic about spending time outside.

Washing off with cold water does not leave a positive impression.

The last thing you want children to remember about their outdoor play is that they had to clean up in cold water; they will be less enthusiastic about engaging the next time around. Over time this will change, but at the beginning set yourself and them up for success.

Step Four: Wash! There are numerous strategies you can employ here. Get in the bin and wash or use a cup and stand beside it. I have also found that a watering can is quite effective for getting the dirt off legs.

Step Five: Once you’ve washed the dirt off, stand on a towel beside the door and dry off.

Final step: Use the remaining water to clean gear. There is nothing worse than going to put on a pair of shoes that are filled with sand or covered with mud. This step will also minimize the excessive dirt from entering your home.

Having a clean up bin serves a variety of purposes. It keeps the mess out of your house and sets a standard for reference. For those moments when someone says “My hands are dirty” or “I’m getting dirty” you can reassure them that they will be cleaned up at the end so they can enjoy their time.  I do not recommend getting in the habit of cleaning mid-session or regularly as it sets a difficult standard and distracts children from engaging in meaningful play experiences.

Our Attitude Towards Outdoor, Messy Play Matters

A note about our role in shaping their willingness to engage in meaningful and messy play:

As adults, our attitude towards their play experiences will help develop their comfort levels with it. If you have a particular attachment to certain clothing pieces, set your children up with some outdoor play clothes that you will not get upset if they get dirty. When children know that the clothing and shoes they are wearing are meant to be played in and get dirty, they will be more willing to engage in trying. This too is part of teaching children how to play outside.

Read, a naturopathic doctor’s perspective on why getting a little dirty is good for the immune system.

 Bio:

Tara Gratto, M.S.Ed, M.A., B.A., is the mother of two young children and experienced educator, both in the traditional classroom setting and in an outdoor education environment. Throughout her teaching career she focused on integrating experiential education into her classroom to enhance learning. Recently embarking on a new chapter, she opened EducatorMama, a nature and play based preschool and beyond. Part of the vision that guides EducatorMama is to provide children with meaningful opportunities to explore and engage with nature by spending more time outdoors.

Be Careful with Water Gardens

You see them all the time, people adding ponds and other water features to their yards or gardens. Done correctly, water gardens are a great way to attract wildlife, create habitat, and add beauty to your property.

Yet there should be caution to this tale. Your choice of plants and animals when planning these features is key. If you’re not careful, your innocent plant purchase might just take over your neighboring lake or river. Please take the proper precautions when choosing plants and animals and when in doubt, choosing native species is always the safest bet.

Learn more about keeping non-native aquatic plants and animals contained in the article below. There’s also some great information in it about the new RIPPLE project, an education program created by Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Is your water garden having a RIPPLE effect on Michigan’s waterways?

While water gardens add beauty to backyards, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with aquatic invasive species and to prevent escape.

Build water gardens away from other waterbodies to prevent escape of non-native animals and plants during flooding events. Photo credit: Paige Filice

Build water gardens away from other waterbodies to prevent escape of non-native animals and plants during flooding events. Photo credit: Paige Filice

Wildlife habitat, soothing sounds and scenic beauty are just a few of the benefits of having a backyard pond. Exotic fish such as koi can be attractive additions to your pond, and non-native ornamental plants such as water hyacinth can add beauty. But if let loose, these species can have long-lasting, detrimental effects on Michigan’s lakes and streams. Water garden fish and plants are commonly selected for their hardiness and rapid growth, but these characteristics also contribute to the species’ ability to become destructive and invasive if they escape.

Invasive water garden plants and fish can enter Michigan’s lakes and streams a variety of ways. One of the most common practices is the intentional release of unwanted pets, such as koi and goldfish. This happens most often during the breeding season when fish reproduce rapidly and in the fall when homeowners are preparing their water gardens for winter weather. While releasing unwanted fish and plants into natural waterbodies may seem humane, the consequences to the environment can be devastating. More environmentally friendly alternatives include giving to or trading with another hobbyist, environmental learning center, aquarium or zoo. Some local pet stores will take back unwanted fish and plants. Invasive fish and plants can also escape water gardens during heavy rain events if the pond overflows, so the best location for a backyard pond is well away from other waters.

Aquatic Species of Concern

One common water garden plant of particular concern is water hyacinth. While beautiful with light purple flowers and glossy leaves, it can become very invasive and is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s list of 100 of the world’s worst invasive alien species. It can form dense mats on the surface of the water, impeding boat traffic, clogging waterways and interfering with wildlife. Due to its free-floating nature, water hyacinth prevents sunlight from penetrating the water, reducing the growth of native submersed aquatic plants, which many aquatic organisms rely on for shelter and food. Water hyacinth was first introduced to the United States in the late 1800s from South America and has since invaded much of the southern United States. It has been found in southeastern Michigan, including Lake Erie Metropark, where it has persisted for years even though it was commonly believed to be unable to survive Michigan’s winter temperatures. When choosing plants and fish for your backyard pond, consider asking your local retailer for native species. There are many varieties of native aquatic plants that can add great beauty to backyard ponds without as many risks.

Tips to reduce the risk of invasion

Follow the RIPPLE: Reduce Invasive Pet and PLant Escapes program guidelines to prevent escapes. If you have water hyacinth, or any other potentially invasive plant or fish in your pond, and would like to get rid of it, remember to never release it into waterways. It is also important to not compost it, as the seeds can still be viable.

  • Inspect and rinse any new plants to rid them of seeds, plant fragments, snails and fish.
  • Build water gardens well away from other waters.
  • Seal aquatic plants for disposal in a plastic bag in the trash.
  • Give or trade unwanted fish or plants with another hobbyist, environmental learning center, aquarium or zoo.
  • Contact a veterinarian or pet retailer for guidance on humane disposal of animals.

The State of Michigan has laws restricting and prohibiting the sale of some organisms, including plants and fish in the water garden industry. However, it does not include all potentially harmful invasive species such as water hyacinth.

Michigan State University Extension teamed up with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to create the RIPPLE education campaign. It is used to educate Michigan retailers and residents about proper inspection and disposal techniques to keep non-native plants and animals contained and out of Michigan’s lakes and streams. To learn more about invasive species and to report sightings in the wild, visit www.misin.msu.edu.

Ticks: One hated insect you need to know about

lyme-ticks

Ticks.

Just the name alone gives some people the creepy-crawlies. You don’t like them, you don’t want to think about them, much less find one on yourself or your pet.

Yet these small insects are one of the many we really should be paying more attention to. They can carry multiple diseases that can be transmitted to humans, they’re small enough to go undetected if you’re not looking, and often are found where we like to recreate most, especially now that the weather is warming up.

And now to add to the eight-legged fun, we have another species to watch out for. The Lone Star Tick is making its way through Michigan, likely due to the increase in deer and wild turkey populations. This species spreads Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Tularemia, and can cause tick paralysis.

So which ones do we have to be on the lookout for? And what do you do to prevent them? These documents should help. The first is a simple fact sheet highlighting the most common ticks in Michigan and how to identify them. The second is a longer pdf file that give tips on what diseases are spread by ticks, how to prevent ticks and how to remove them if you have them.

5commonticks_282020_7_3594915_ver1.0.jpg

Download Michigan’s Five Most Common Ticks (above)- 5commonticks_282020_7_3594915_ver1.0

Download Ticks and Your Health: Preventing tick-borne illness in Michigan here – resize_307382_7_3546396_ver1.0

Activity: Family Nature Bucket List

So, you have read the studies, have seen the advertisements and articles. You know that spending time outside is good for your physical and emotional health. More importantly, you know how good it is for your kids.

Now here’s the real question…what do you do once you’re outside?

The simplest answer is, nothing. You don’t have to do anything outside. Unstructured time outdoors can be very beneficial and may even lead to adventures you wouldn’t have dreamed of. There’s nothing like the imagination of a child to take even simple trips to interesting places.

But maybe this seems too daunting a task. Maybe you’re a person who likes a little more structure, more direction? There’s nothing wrong with that either. In fact, the following activity may be just the organizational tool you need.

bucket listThe idea of a Family Nature Bucket List is simple. Take a bucket, decorate clothes pins with different ideas for outdoor activities, and as you complete each activity you put it in the bucket and watch your memories pile up.

This is a great way to get the entire family’s input on what they want to do while outside and gives you a handy go-to list of things to do when the kids are bored.

Want to get started? Nurture in Nature has a step-by-step guide on how to create your very own nature bucket list.

“Leaves of Three, Leave it Be.” Easy Right? Well, Not Really.

Leaves of three, leave it be. This common phrase is taught to children all over Michigan. It’s a convenient rhyme meant to steer you away from touching poison ivy and getting a rash. However, this concept is not quite as clear-cut as it seems. There are several other native plants (yes, even though you may hate it, poison ivy is native) that have leaves in configurations similar enough to poison ivy to cause confusion. There is also the fact that it’s not only the leaves you have to avoid, the stems and roots contain the same oily resin. Besides, what do you do in the winter when the leaves fall off the plants? Poison ivy can both creep along the forest floor and climb woody structures like trees. Do you think you’d be able to spot the climbing kind without its leaves?

Well, unless you want to test it in a real life experiment you might want to take a look at this article from Michigan State University Extension on how to identify the plant.

Identifying poison ivy isn’t always easy to do

Don’t spoil your summer fun by coming in contact with poison ivy; learn to identify it so you can avoid it.

Poison ivy is a plant you should learn to identify so that you can avoid it. An oily resin called urushiol, which is found in all parts of the plant, is what causes skin rashes when people come in contact with it. People vary in their sensitivity to poison ivy, but may become more sensitive after repeated exposure to it. One common misconception is that the poison ivy rash itself is contagious. The fluid in the blisters of a poison ivy rash does not contain urushiol and won’t cause the rash to spread. You won’t get poison ivy unless you come in contact with the oil still on someone’s skin or clothing.

Urushiol is easily transferred to clothing, skin, tools or pet’s fur. If contaminated objects aren’t cleaned, contact with the oil on them can cause skin reactions much later. Poison ivy should never be burned as the smoke from burning poison ivy contains the oil and can irritate lungs and nasal passages as well as skin and eyes. See the Michigan State University Extension Bulletin E2946 for more information on how to control poison ivy.

Poison ivy is a very widespread and prolific plant, frequently appearing along the edge of roadways, paths and other disturbed areas. One reason for its wide distribution is due to the fact that its berries are eaten by birds and deer. Over 60 species of birds have been documented to eat poison ivy berries. The seeds are not digested, but pass through the intestinal tract to be deposited throughout the active ranges of animals that eat them. Unlike humans, the animals eating the berries do not become sensitized to the volatile oils and do not experience allergic reactions to the plant.

Poison ivy can be a bit of a chameleon. It looks similar to several common backyard plants including Virginia creeper and boxelder. The leaves of poison ivy may be shiny or dull and the leaf margins may be toothed or wavy, or have no teeth at all. The leaves may be hairy, or have no hairs at all. Its appearance can vary greatly, but in all cases it has compound leaves that consist of three leaflets. The leaflets are 2-5 inches long, green during the growing season and turning scarlet red in fall. The leaves are arranged in an alternate pattern on the stem. The terminal (end) leaflet has a longer stalk than the lateral (side) leaflets.

Poison ivy Poison ivy Poison ivy with flowers
Poison ivy leaves showing variation in appearance. The picture to the right shows poison ivy flowers. Photo credits: Mark Czarnota, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org (left); David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org (middle); and Catherine Herms, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org (right)

Poison ivy flowers in spring and produces dense clusters of white berries that ripen from late summer through fall and persist through the winter. Poison ivy can take the form of an erect shrub or climbing vine or grow in large colonies along the ground. Poison ivy has aerial rootlets that it uses to attach to the bark of trees. The rootlets have a hairy appearance. Twigs of poison ivy may be covered with fine hairs. The bark of poison ivy is gray.

Poison ivy roots Poison ivy berries
Left, Poison ivy aerial roots. Right, Poison ivy berries in fall. Photo credits: Joseph LaForest, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org (left) and Ohio State Weed Lab Archive, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org (right)

Virginia creeper, like poison ivy, has brilliant red fall color. Virginia creeper is a vine, closely related to grapes. Its leaves have five leaflets, although very young plants may have some leaflets that appear in threes. The leaves are arranged in an alternate pattern on the stem. It produces small clusters of greenish flowers in spring that mature to blue berries in fall. Although it clings to trees like poison ivy, unlike the distinctly hairy looking aerial roots of poison ivy, Virginia creeper adheres to trees and walls with small, circular pads on the ends of tendrils.

Virginia creeper Virginia creeper blueberries
Left, Virginia creeper has five leaflets and tendrils with circular pads that adhere to trees and walls. Right, Blueberries of Virginia creeper. Photo credits: John Cardina, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org (left) and James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org (right)

Young seedlings of the boxelder tree superficially resemble poison ivy. Boxelder seedlings grow to become large trees with green twigs and alternate compound leaves with three to seven leaflets. Boxelder is in the maple family, and is sometimes known as ash-leafed maple. Boxelder has yellow fall color, lacks the hairy aerial rootlets and does not have berries. The fruits are the typical maple seeds called samaras.

Boxelder leaves
Boxelder leaves. Photo credit: Paul Wray, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org