Teaching children about plant life and trees, while valuable, is not always easy to do in a way that captures their attention and imagination. There are several aspects of the maple tree, however -- from the interesting names of its species to the various places where the tree or its likenesses show up in everyday life -- that kids will find fascinating.
Dozens of types of maple trees, with a variety of interesting names, are found in different parts of the world. For instance, there is the bigtooth maple, which gets its moniker from the size of its leaves and which has particularly striking foliage in the fall. There is also is the full-moon maple, whose leaves are characterized by several small peaks that spread out like a hand fan. Other maple trees, such as the paperbark maple, get their name from the trunk of the tree, as opposed to the leaves.
For many breakfast-eaters, pancakes and waffles would just not be the same without syrup, and the most popular type of syrup in North America is maple. This sugary sauce is created using the sap from the maple tree and is made predominantly in Vermont, Quebec and Ontario. Trees used most frequently to make this kind of syrup are the sugar maple and the red and black maples.
Maple is used to make various forms of sporting equipment. The most famous might be the maple baseball bat, which, as of 2010, was used by an estimated 50 percent of Major League Baseball players. Other sports that make use of maple are bowling, which uses the wood for pins, and pool, in which the shafts of the cues are made of maple. Sugar maple trees supply much of the timber used because of the strength of their wood.
The leaf is arguably the most famous aspect of the maple tree. Even for those who do not know much about trees, the maple leaf is recognizable, thanks in part to its display on the Canadian national flag. Sitting in the center of the flag, the leaf is symmetrical, with one crown on top and one on each side. It is symbolic of the Canadian wilderness, much of which is made up of maple trees. The leaf can also be seen on the logo for Air Canada and Canadian sports teams, such as the Toronto Maple Leafs.