Lesson ideas

* Biology

Cut sections through leaves of any of the three plants to observe the arrangement of tissues inside.

Construct food webs for holly, based on herbivores (holly-blue butterfly caterpillars, holly leaf-miner); carnivores (blue tits, great tits - both species open leaf-mines to get out the grubs inside); and omnivores (thrushes and robins will eat holly berries as well as grubs in leaf-mines and caterpillars of the holly blue - if they can get them). Find out more about how the berries are dispersed.

* Art

Holly, ivy and mistletoe all make excellent subjects for drawing and painting - for example, in making Christmas cards.

* Maths

Statistical tests can be taught using holly leaves to provide data: comparing numbers of spines per leaf low down and higher up the tree; mean number of leaf-mines per leaf on trees in exposed and sheltered situations.

* Chemistry

Grind ivy leaves with a pestle and mortar and dissolve the resulting chlorophyll in water or other solvent to use in chroma-tography.

* Geography

Investigate the distribution of the three plants in Britain and Europe and compare this with various environmental factors such as temperature.

* History

Investigate the traditions and mythology surrounding the use of these plants at Christmas.

* RE

Investigate the religious significance of the plants.

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