|Environmental Education in the Schools (Peace Corps, 1993)|
|Activities, activities and more activities|
This activity may be conducted as a class project, with a class divided into groups of three or four students each, or with students working individually. Several related activities are included in this section.
This activity begins with adopting a tree (or trees) near or on your school site. If there are no trees nearby, you might bring a potted tree to your classroom or try to have a tree planted on the school grounds. "Adopting-a-tree" is a valuable way to initiate a unit of study on trees with any age group.
THE FIRST VISIT
* Visit the adopted tree(s)
* Describe the tree as it is right now, today.
* Look at its physical characteristics (size, leaf shape, bark color, and other features)O
* Look to see whether it is alive. How can you tell?
* Look to see whether it appears to be asleep (dormant) or awake. How can you tell?
* Listen to find out whether it makes any sounds.
* Smell to find out whether it has an odor. Do different parts of the tree smell different-like bark, old leaves, new leaves?
* Think about whether the tree and its parts might smell different to you at other times of the year.
* Think about how the tree got where it is and how new trees might come to join it.
* Think about what other living things might need this tree for survival.
* Think about what things the tree might need for its own
* Think about how long the tree might live.
Warning: Do not taste any part of the tree.
Repeat the visits throughout the year and compare observations made each time.
* Look to see how the tree has changed.
* Look to see in what ways the tree has remained the same.
* Think and talk about what the tree might look like the next time you visit it.
AFTER THE FIRST OR MORE VISITS
Once back in the classroom, and now that you and your students have adopted a tree, you might ask your students to tell you what they think a tree is. Accept all statements offered and be careful to record the students' exact words and phrases. List the statements on the chalk- board; discuss and make any changes suggested. When statements have been agreed upon, you and the students can put them together in the form of a poster, chart, or bulletin board.
Here are some sample statements:
A tree is a living thing.
A tree has many parts, just as people have many parts to their bodies.
There are the trunk (main torso), bark (skin), branches (arms, legs), leaves or needles (hair).
Trees have names. (The children mention some names of trees.)
A tree has many uses. (You and the students may wish to list some. )
A tree interacts with and is dependent upon many other organisms, such as insects, mammals, and birds.
These initial activities can help you decide on follow-up projects by indicating what the students already know, what their interests are, and the kinds of additional information they might acquire.
1. Brainstorm from 10 to 15 adjectives that could be used to describe a tree. These words can be used to write a poem (haiku or cinquain) or short paragraph about the tree.
2. Create and present a short story, puppet show, or play about the tree's parents and/or its offspring.
3. Imagine sounds you might hear near the tree. Can you hear leaves moving, animals, birds? Write a brief description of these sounds, inventing appropriate words, if necessary. Imagine you are looking at the tree. What colors and shapes do you see? Write a brief description, using your new words, of how the tree looks, smells, feels, and sounds.
4. Write a brief imaginary conversation with your tree. What might your tree think, see, feel, hear, and smell? (You may wish to record the conversations on tape.)
5. Imagine you are a radio or television reporter interviewing a person, bird, or other animal that lives in a forest or in a tree. Write down some questions you might ask, such as: How do you like your home? Who are your neighbors? What do you do for a living?
6. Take a tree to lunch. During lunch, consider these and other questions:* What is it like under the tree?
* What animals visit the tree while you are there?
* What kind of help, if any, is the tree getting from people (watering, feeding, pruning), and does it need that help?
* Why and when does it need help?
* What kinds of things, if any, are damaging the tree?
* Has the tree cast seeds? Have any seeds developed into seedlings?
* How does the tree take care of itself?
* How much of its history can you observe? Has it had any accidents (such as being hit by lightning)?
* Is the tree crowded by other trees or by buildings?
"If a I had influence with the good fairy...I should ask that
her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that
it would last throughout life."
7. See whether your tree makes a shadow. Watch the changes in your tree's shadow at different times of the day and during different times of the year.
8. See whether you can use your tree, without hurting it, to make a sundial. Can it help you keep time?
9. Make paintings, drawings, or photographs of the shapes and shades of color you find when sunlight and shadows can be seen on and around your tree.
10. Describe your tree in enough detail so that someone else can recognize it. Share what you have learned by inviting someone else to visit your tree-and be sure to visit your friend's tree, too.