I was recently suggested to check out the book Our Tree Named Steve, by Alan Zweibel.
This is a very cute book about one familie's connection to a giant tree that is in their yard. I love how they show the kids growing up and outdoor activities changing right along side the tree.
After reading this book with Sam at first she was pretty sad about the ending and didn't want to read it again. But as it sat on the shelf with the other library books she eventually asked for me to read it again and enjoyed it much more the second time around. Today we read it and she asked if we had any big trees in our yard like "Steve". I told her we didn't have any that big but that maybe we should take a closer look at our trees.
So, the girls and I headed out with some questions in mind....
- How many trees do we have in our yard?
- Where is the biggest tree in our yard?
- Where is the smallest tree in our yard?
- Do we have any trees that have the same leaves in our yard?
- Which tree is Sam's favorite?
Both girls had a great time exploring the trees around our yard this afternoon. Sam decided they needed some water today too so some water play was involved and watering our trees may become a regular necessity now!
The Nitty Gritty!
Want more ideas for how you can engage kids in learning about the trees in their area? Here are some of my favorites for a wide age range of kids.
Tree Map - Simply make a sketch of the school and surrounding property or house and yard (photo copy this for each child). Then take a walk around the property and have them put an X on their map everywhere that they find a tree. Any of the following activities could also be added to the tree map to extend the learning and age range.
Leaf Rubbings - You all know about leaf rubbings and here is a great take on doing them with little ones.
Bark Rubbings - Same concept just with the bark! Leaf rubbings and bark rubbings can be great ways to compare different trees, help kids remember the identity of trees and can be used to create a neat little tree journal that they can keep and take with them on walks or hikes, adding to it as they go!
Tree Identification - With older kids having them learn the names and characteristics of different trees can be a great learning exercise. And you don't have to go out and buy a tree identification guide in order to do this. There are some great online resources that can help you do the same thing.
Count Animal Activity - For each tree have your child examine it from top to bottom for evidence that animals live there or have been there. Check for nests, holes in the trunk, insects, holes around the baseor anything else they can find.
For a few more ideas you can check out another post I did about getting to know trees! Day 147.