Friday, May 28, 2010

Fun Friday: Explore a Tree

Fun Friday activities are quick-and-simple ways to explore nature in your own backyard

THE IDEA
Take a close-up look at a favorite tree in our neighborhood.

The big explorer and I have been reading Jennifer Ward’s The Busy Tree a lot lately. It celebrates trees and all the life and activity that takes place in and around them.

This week, I thought it would be fun to take the book outside and read it under a tree. And while we were there, I figured we might as well explore the tree, too, to see how it compared to the one in the book.

OUR NOTES FROM THE FIELD
I asked the big explorer to pick any tree in the neighborhood. He picked this one, which is right alongside the sidewalk in front of our house.


We plopped down and he cracked open the book and started reading. We read about the tree’s roots, acorns, trunk, bark, branches, leaves – even the animal visitors like birds and moths who rely on it for survival.


When he read the page that says “Hear my green leaves as they shake in the wind, breathing air out for all to breathe in,” the wind actually shook the leaves on our tree, too! He explained to me that trees were so important that they help keep the whole world alive.

The last line of the book invites readers to come and see how busy a tree is. So we started exploring our tree at its roots. We could actually see part of the roots above ground.


Next, we looked at the bark, which was soft and almost peeling away from itself. The big explorer found lots to look at inside the cracks.


He even found a spider web.


Then we grabbed some paper and the big explorer made a rubbing of the bark.

Next we looked to the leaves of our tree. We talked about their shape, color and texture compared to other trees we’ve explored before. We spotted something else on the branches, too, though I couldn’t identify them (nuts or pods I’m guessing?).


Then we grabbed a few of the tree’s leaves that had fallen on the ground and created some leaf rubbings.


It was amazing how much there was to look at and discover in a tree we’ve passed countless times before. I’m glad we finally stopped to take notice.

TAKE-HOME TIPS
You don’t need a book to inspire you to head outdoors and explore a tree. To make it fun for the kids:
  • Let the kids pick the tree. You might be surprised to discover that it isn’t the biggest or most showy tree that piques your little one’s interest.

  • Get climbing. Our tree consisted of a narrow trunk and several thin branches that aren’t meant to support the weight of even the littlest of human bodies. But if your child picks a tree that’s fit for climbing, go for it! 


MORE IDEAS FOR OUTDOOR FUN

The weather here in SoCal is so beautiful it’s hard not to go outside. This weekend, why not:
Whether you go for a hike, enjoy a bike ride or lay down under the shade of a tree, make a date with nature this weekend – and take the kids!

7 comments:

  1. Hey! Now there's a tree I recognise! Looks to me like a melaleuca tree, a native Australian species often called a paper bark tree. We love collecting the bark to paint on. Here's a link to an old post where we painted onto the bark with cotton buds.

    http://squigglemum.com/activities/bark-art/

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  2. What a great activity for you & your Big Explorer to share! When I was student teaching in a kindergarten class, they had a "class tree" and would head out together a few times each season to observe their tree. I loved the idea and hoped to do it with my class once I was teaching...but then found a job as a preschool teacher in a center that didnt' have a single tree on the playground. So that was that. But now I'd love to do this with Shane!

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  3. Great post as always, Deb! And thanks for the link love! xo- Bethe

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  4. Catherine, THANK YOU SO MUCH for identifying this tree! I scoured the Internet & couldn't figure it out -- maybe because it's an Australian native?!? Wow! Right outside my front door! And thanks for sharing the great link for more fun with tree bark.

    Crystal, I hope you & Shane find your own special tree & enjoy discovering it together!

    Bethe, hope you have an extra-special holiday weekend earning your grass stains! :0

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  5. Trees are so interesting aren't they? I'm going to look out for that book too.

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  6. Wow... I think its a great idea to let them "experience" a tree... Thanks for sharing... plus all those other ideas too! :)

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  7. Cat & MamaJ, trees are easy to overlook, but offer tons for kids to explore. Hope you both have a wonderful weekend!

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