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Volume 5, Issue 10
May 7, 2007



Celebrate trees by reading the poem below to your children. Then use the activities and Web sites below to further enrich your unit and help children learn about tree-rific trees.

Nature's Surprise

Its leaves give us sweet shade
From summer's yellow sun.

In autumn those leaves fall
Bright colors every one.

For winter, bare branches
Show up against gray skies.

Come spring, young buds show up
Burst open with surprise!

What is this special thing
That gives a show for free?

Mother nature's present --
A beautiful, lovely tree!

Susan LaBella
Editor, Early Childhood Education Newsletter




Help children understand that deciduous trees change as the seasons pass. Give each child four toilet tissue tubes and two paper plates. Cut two slits directly opposite each other in one end of each tube. Cut the paper plates in half. Help children paint their four tubes brown. Then let children use crayons to color one of the paper-plate halves with blossoms, one with green leaves, one with orange and red leaves, and one with bare branches. Help children slide one paper plate half into the slits on one brown tube. Do the same with the other three paper-plate halves and tubes. Then encourage children to tell little stories about their trees as they use them to show the sequence of the seasons. Or share the poem above, "Nature's Surprise," and have children hold up the tree that matches each stanza of the poem.

Explain to children that trees give us the paper we use. Display a variety of paper -- tissue paper, wall paper, newspaper, wax paper, tissues, and so on. Invite children to draw a tree on a large piece of construction paper. Then invite them to tear pieces of different types of paper and glue them around the tree in a collage format.

-- Invite children to look at the kinds of trees around your school. Then on an easel pad draw a simple graph. Choose up to four kinds of trees that you have seen and draw a likeness of each kind down the left side of the graph. To the right of each tree, draw a grid of boxes across the page. Let children count how many of each kind of tree they see. Then color one box on the graph to represent each tree counted. When you have completed your graph, have children use it to answer questions about the trees around your school.
-- Use brown paint to paint a shoebox and its lid. Cut 8 slits (big enough to slide in a Popsicle stick) in the top of the shoebox lid. Label each slit with one of the number words one to eight. Cut out tree shapes from green construction paper and glue each shape onto a wooden Popsicle stick or tongue depressor. Number each tree with a different cardinal number from 1 to 8. Invite children to slide each numbered tree into the correct slit on the shoebox.

Talk with children about the attributes of trees -- they clean our air, they provide many foods, they give animals homes, they provide lumber to build homes… After you have compiled a good list, invite children to think about why it might be nice to be a tree. Let each child dictate a sentence. Record each child's sentence on a sheet of drawing paper. Then let each child illustrate his/her sentence. Bind the drawings together into a class booklet.

Prepare a four-page booklet for each child. -- On the first page, let each child draw a simple tree. Talk about the parts of a tree and write these words on the board: branches, leaves, trunk, and roots. Help children label each part of their trees.
-- Next, talk with children about animals that live in trees. Supply pictures of some of those animals. Let children choose an animal to draw on the second page of the booklet.
-- With children reinforce the initial /t/ sound. Together create a list of other words that begin with that sound. Encourage children to write their /t/ words on the third page of their booklets.
-- Have fun with words that rhyme with tree. Ask children to think of short rhyming sentences. (The sentences can be silly.) Record the sentences and let children copy one and illustrate it on the last page of their tree booklets.

Help children think about the different shapes that trees can be. Point out the shapes of evergreens, maples, and palm trees, for example. Ask children which shapes they like. Then encourage children to create an imaginary tree. Tell them their tree can be any shape, have leaves of any color or no leaves, produce a new food, and so on. Invite children to draw their trees, name them, and tell the class about them.



Check out the following Web sites for additional background and activities.

Tree World
Explore a year in the life of a tree.

National Arbor Day Foundation
Learn about the history of Arbor Day -- great background information.

Trees Are Terrific
This online story about trees can be read aloud as your students view the graphics.

A World Without Trees
Click on the button to show the landscape with and without trees.

Reading Between the Rings
This site gives information that is helpful to understanding a tree's rings.