Is the air getting warmer? Do you see tiny sprouts peeping from the ground? Help your children to see these early signs of spring. Following is one activity we like young learners to engage in as they not only develop a sense of understanding for seasons, but also encourages them to understand that trees are important.
Begin by showing pictures of trees. Elicit from children the many positive things we get from trees. For example, they might discuss beauty, shade, homes for animals, and places to play, etc.
Put up a picture of a large tree. Have children stand in front of the tree and breathe in and out deeply. Explain to them that the tree helps give them good air to breathe and then takes out the bad air that they breathe out. Have them stand and practice this several times as it will help them remember and appreciate the “work” of trees as they use gross motor skills.
Make the point that trees help us so we should and can help them, too. Have a conversation about what children think trees need. After they have shared ideas, have them participate in a “little play” about a tree.
Hold up a seed from a tree that is local to your area. Tell children to pretend to be this seed. Children should scrunch down on floor. Explain that the seed needs to land in good soil. This is like the homes they each have – a tree needs a good home, too.
Then dramatically tell the children that rain starts to fall. You can even play the sound of rain to make this more fun. Explain that seeds need water to sprout.
Encourage children to begin sprouting. You can show them how to begin moving their hands/arms away from their scrunched body.
Explain that besides good soil, trees need the sun. This warmth helps the seed to break its way through the soil. Have children act out breaking through the good soil.
Tell children that over time, through many years, the tree grows. Its roots become strong. Have children stand still carefully in one place like tree roots. Talk about the development of a strong and sturdy trunk and have children stand up straight. Tell them that more rain comes to help the tree and that the sun lets the tree make food.
Continue with your tree “play” by having children make branches by putting out their arms and wiggling their fingers for leaves.
Share that trees develop their seeds, which fall to the ground or might be carried to other place by animals. New trees grow. If appropriate, have children start their “play” all over again.
To extend this activity, show pictures of different types of soil (sand, mountainside, etc.) Discuss how these might be challenging for a tree’s growth.
NAEYC – 2.G.02 & 2.J.
Head Start – III.B. & XI.B.2.