KaMOShi Practical guide for 'Tree looking for school'

A story about the tree as a symbol of biodiversity, needful for humans and animals.

Trees, birds and other animals may also claim their place at school.
Theme: nature (at school), tree, birds
Sub-themes: being sad, growing old, dying, helping, working together, friendship

Possible reasons to tell this story

A tree or part of a tree has fallen at school, in the street, in the park or at someone's home. This involves a lot of emotions.
• One of the toddlers helped in the garden last weekend, during a holiday period, … with dad, mom, grandpa, grandma …. They have planted a tree!
• The school wants to rearrange the playground with special focus on greening. A lot of adventures are about to happen! Here “Tree Looking for School” is brought out to stimulate the toddlers to think about the way they want to green their school.
• The municipality is going to organize a tree planting day and asks the school to participate.

MOS core goals for this story

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Feel: empathize

 

Raising interest in trees and birds.
 

Building up connectedness with trees and birds.

hoofd met hersenen

Think: explore

 

Increasing knowledge about trees and birds.


Gaining initial knowledge about the importance of trees and birds.

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Do: work in an organized and active way with children                 

Helping to make the playground greener.

 

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG 4 Quality education

'4.7 Ensure that all pupils acquire the knowledge and skills that are necessary to promote sustainable development by 2030…. "

SDG 13 Climate action

13.33 Improve education, awareness ... concerning mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning on the subject of climate change"

SDG 15 Life on land

15.5 …stop the loss of biodiversity …’

Overview of the pictures + related key questions and teaching activities

Picture 1 – title + front page
Boom zkt school titel en cover

 

Picture 2 – Tree is weeping
Boom zkt school prent 2 boom huilt

Key questions that go with this picture:
• Who has already been sad sometime? Why was that?
• Did you also cry then?
• Where do our tears come from?
>> Let the children fantasize about this.

 

Picture 3 - Blackbird, Butterfly and Squirrel near Tree
Boom zkt school prent 3 merel, vlinder en eekhoorn bij Boom

 

Key questions that go with this picture:

What could be the matter with Tree?

>> Let the children fantasize about this.

Picture 4 - Blackbird and last seed on branch
Boom zkt school prent 4 merel en laatste zaadje op tak

 

Key questions that go with this picture:

• How come Tree has only one seed left?
• Philosophizing about aging, possibly the death (of plants, trees, pets, grandma / grandpa, …)

Picture 5 – Blackbird whistles on branch
Boom zkt school prent 5 merel fluit op tak

 

Key questions that go with this picture:

  • Philosophizing about the meaning and value of a tree for children (shade, nature, air purifier, to play in/around, as king of the forest, wood production, ...).
  • Who of you can whistle too? Can we whistle like a blackbird? Shall we give it a try?  Link this exercise, optionally, with the teaching suggestion about bird song (see next picture).
Picture 6 - Blackbird, Pigeon, Magpie, Sparrow, Blue Tit
Boom zkt school prent 6 merel, duif, ekster, mus, pimpelmees

 

Key questions that go with this picture:

• Who has already seen a blackbird, a pigeon, a magpie, a sparrow or a blue tit? Can you describe them (based on colour, size, ...).
• Do we also find these (or other) birds at our school? If so, where do they live? If not, why would that be?
Tips and suggestions for teaching activities about BIRDS:
• Collect pictures of a blackbird, a pigeon, a magpie, a sparrow and a blue tit beforehand. Possibly, provide pictures of other birds. Let children identify the birds. Discuss with them the characteristics of those birds.

• More difficult (for the older ones): also provide pictures of both the males and the females. Have the children indicate the males / females. What is their answer based on? And why do they think there are differences?
• Play the singing sound of a blackbird (you can find it on Google). Compare with the song of the other birds in the story. Repeat several times. Are the children able to recognize the singing sound or song of the different birds?

Picture 7 – Birds are on TREE
Boom zkt school prent 7 vogesl zitten op boom

 

Key questions that go with this picture:

• What do you think about the fact that the birds are helping Tree? Why?
• Who has ever helped someone? What was that for?
• How did it feel being able to help someone?
• Have you ever been helped when you had a problem? How did that feel to you?

Picture 8 - Birds

racketing on branch
Boom zkt school prent 8 vogels maken kabaal op tak

 

Key questions that go with this picture:

What is, according to you, a good place for Tree’s seed? Why?

Picture 9 – Birds back on Tree with proposals
Boom zkt school prent 9 vogels terug op Boom met voorstellen

 

Picture 10 – Sparrow introduces playground
Boom zkt school prent 10 mus stelt speelplaats voor

 

Key questions that go with this picture:

• What do you think of our playground? Like / dislike? Why?
• Could Little Tree also get a place in our playground? Where?
• What, do you think, would birds and other animals think if Little Tree got a place in our playground? What makes you think that?

Picture 11- Tree is happy
Boom zkt school prent 11 boom is blij

 

Picture 12 – Happy Tree in the playground
Boom zkt school prent 12 blije boom op de speelplaats

Tips and suggestions for teaching activities concerning PLANTING A TREE at school:
• Preference: a tree from here (indigenous), and why not choose a fruit tree? That is a tree as well and moreover it also grows tasty fruit. If you decide to plant a fruit tree, then choose a standard fruit tree.
• You can find help and good advice here:

• After thorough research, select a top 3 of trees that you would like to have at school. Print photos of the trees, the blossom and their fruit. Hang up these photos and let the kids, parents and staff choose which tree they want at school.
• “Planting a Tree at School” should turn into a real festivity. Be sure to involve the parents as well.
GOLDEN TIP - Experiment and try to find out whether you can grow trees yourself (from seed to tree) with seeds from different trees (cherry, walnut, oak, birch, ...). You’ll have to provide a suitable place with a lot of compost.

Observe the pictures

The characters in the story

  • Tree (picture 3, 4, 5 and 11
  • Blackbird (picture 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 11)
  • Magpie (picture 9 and 11)
  • Pigeon (picture 9 and 11)
  • Sparrow (picture 6, 7, 8 and 10

The tree's feelings

  • Picture 2 (sad)
  • Picture 7 and 9 (gradually happy, but still not really satisfied)
  • Picture 11 and 12 (happy)

Birds

  • Picture 1, 3, 4, and 5: what’s the black bird’s name?
  • Picture 6: give the birds’ names?
  • Picture 7: what birds are in the Tree?
  • Picture 8: what birds are on the branches?
  • Picture 9: what birds make their proposal?
  • Picture 10: give the name of the brown bird?
  • Picture 12: what birds can be found there? Compare with picture 3.

Closer search...

  • Picture 3: what animals are still in the tree?
  • Picture 7: who arranges it? What makes you think that?
  • Picture 8: what does the black bird have on its head? Why?
  • Picture 8: what differences do you notice among the birds?
  • Picture 8 also provides an opportunity to include vocabulary related to birds: beak, head, the blackbird’s yellow eye ring (male), trunk, tail, feathers, wings, legs, toes,
  • Comparative observation of picture 10 and picture 12: what differences do you see?
  • Detailed observation of picture 12: who is in the Tree? What are children and teachers/parents doing there?

Real or not real

  • What real tree does Tree look like? Provide other pictures/photos and explain about e.g. baobab, fruit tree, …
  • All pictures: can what you see on the pictures occur in reality or is it not real?

Vocabulary and expressions in the story

Generally
very best / magical / doing good / a brilliant idea / proud / not a nut / tense / autumn / oh dear / cheering / kilometre / job / nurturing / scratching / tickling / seem / curious / for years to come / romping / weak / gradually / grow silent / spoiling / rags / looking at someone questioningly / singing.

Trees
leaves / crown / suddenly blast off / shade / trunk / branches / send out seeds into the world / sow

Birds
whistle / racket / cackle like chickens / cooing / flying in / blaring / chirping / feathers / spreading wings / bird friend / flying away. See also vocabulary Picture 8

Increase empathy

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Empathy moment or activity

Motion moment or activity, while at the same time activating (fore)knowledge on trees

Empathy games in order to get familiar with the characters

Discussions in a circle: empathize with each other's perception

Enriching free play in the doll’s corner and on the play mat in order to practise empathy

 

Empathy moment or activity
•    Before, after or while reading the story
•    Try not to interrupt the story too much
•    Inside or outside / under a tree / in a bare spot where there aren’t any trees or plants yet

 

Motion moment or activity, while at the same time activating (fore)knowledge on trees
•    standing like a solid tree with a thick trunk and sturdy, proud branches, large crown, feet firmly on the ground like roots, fingers of tissues moving like leaves, gentle wind, a lot of wind, tree falls over due to wind / storm, …
•    small tree is standing in the sun and growing (summer), wind blowing a breeze through the tree, leaves falling (autumn), resting (winter), getting leaves again, leaves rustling (spring), tree getting bigger and growing and growing …
•    branches down, branches suddenly burst into the air, sad tree, tree crying softly or loud, happy tree, angry tree, frightened tree
•    tree alone, in pairs or in group
•    toddler yoga: the tree pose, sympathize and empathize with a growing tree: first as a seed in the ground (crouched, head down), small tree (raise your head), growing (stand up slowly), branches growing (raise your arms slowly, if possible, also bring one foot to the knee), branches continue to grow (stretch arms slowly), …

 

Empathy games in order to get familiar with the characters

•    empathize with Tree: the teacher is Tree, toddlers talk to Tree and are allowed to ask questions
•    role play: conversation among the members of the Tree family: young, old and very old
•    a small group of children can empathize with the birds. Together with the other children you ask questions: who are you? What are your qualities? What do you propose to help Tree etc.
•    dramatize, act out the whole story with all characters: Tree, birds, child, teacher, parent, …

 

Discussions in a circle: empathize with each other's perception

•    show-and-tell in a circle about weeping and comforting: sadness, weeping, tears, how do you weep? Why do you weep? What do you do when someone weeps?
•    Show-and-tell in a circle about being young and growing old: growing up, saying goodbye, dying, last leaf, last seed
•    show-and-tell in a circle about helping and being satisfied: how to help, feelings that arise with helping, ask for help

 

Enriching free play in the doll’s corner and on the play mat in order to practise empathy

•    offer some stuffed animals from birds, birdhouses or nests, birdseeds, feeding board, drinking bowl
•    offer wooden figures and houses that represent the Tree family: daddy, mom, aunt, mommy, sister, brother, grandma, grandpa, other...

Encourage thinking, observation and research

hoofd met hersenenA proud old tree's wish

The playground's investigation

Observation of trees and plants at school or in the surrounding area

Visual processing 'my tree’

Experimenting with plants and seeds: what do seeds and plants need to grow?

Research on birds and ticklish creatures

Make use of media

Free play

For those who want even more

Encourage participation by children and their environment

 

A proud old Tree’s wish:
• that his last seed can turn into a beautiful Tree just like he is
• that Small Tree has children around him who really love him. Children who hug trees, who smell him, enjoy his shade and play with his leaves in autumn.
• when Small Tree is big and strong, the children can romp around it and the birds can live in its crown.

This story contains a wish that challenges the toddlers to attempt something together. It would be good for these processing activities…
•    to find out how the toddlers understand the wish of the Tree
•    to give the toddlers the opportunity to express their views on that call
•    as a teacher, to provide some counterbalance in order to allow multiple opinions to be addressed. This can be done, for example, by offering alternatives such as in Blackbird's proposal: “Why do you not just sow it at your feet in the forest?”
Before you take action, you can, together with the children, research and observe. A lot of research activities that are connected with the story of the Tree are possible. The choice depends, among other things, on the playground’s situation and the surroundings of the school.

 

The playground’s investigation

•    Are there big and small trees, small and very small plants? Where is a good place for them to grow? Where not? How can we take care of them?
•     Is the place inhabited by a bird, can you see its nest?
•     Where do children like / don't like to play? The children can "fly out" with an assignment, just like the birds in the story.
•    Does the playground contain grey areas?
•     Where could we still plant a small tree or plant?
•     Possibly, sketch a plan of the playground and indicate interesting spots for trees, plants, etc.

 

Observation of trees and plants at school or in the surrounding area

•    discovering where to find a number of trees, species and shapes
•    experience what you can do with a tree: hide, climb, lean, hug, surround, seek shade and be in or out, ...
•    explaining the importance of trees: house for birds and ticklish creatures, purifying the air, providing shade, beautiful surroundings, wood production,...
•    tidying up, taking care of the green, give them rainwater, sweeping around and under a tree or set up a seat, telling stories, drinks, picnics, feeling or smelling game, blindfolded under a tree,...
•    discovering parts of the tree: roots, trunk, bark, crown, branches, seeds, flowers, fruits, buds, leaves, twigs, nest?, ...
•    discover characteristics of the tree: circumference of the trunk (measure with different sizes), roughness of the bark, smell, collect some leaves, listen to a tree,
•    learning to use identification cards of the species of trees and leaves.
•    possibly, observing 2 trees in a comparative way.

 

Visual processing 'my tree’

•    Drawing or painting a tree and the things children like to do with it. Why not try out the proposals?
•    Creating a collage with torn pieces of paper from magazines (variation: pieces only in green and brown) or with leaves from trees and shrubs.

 

Experimenting with plants and seeds: what do seeds and plants need to grow?

• learning to plant and sow.
• searching for small plants, take care of them. You can also replant them and compare their growing process.
• experiment with what is needed to grow, express assumptions and check them while implementing them (learning to test hypotheses). Sow the seeds of the same plant and take care of them in different ways: whether or not to place it in sunlight, watering it or not, put it outside or inside…. Sowing seeds from different plants in different pots, e.g. in transparent pots, so you can see the roots.

 

Research on birds and ticklish creatures

• listening to bird sounds (recognizing sounds / making  recordings), trying to whistle or sing like a bird (happy, scared, sad,…), audio game: recognizing the sounds of birds.
• watching birds, flying high or low. Have you seen them eating or drinking? How can you help them? Occasionally observing bird’s flying twigs to build a nest, bird's nest fallen from a tree, nest box, excrements, feathers, ...
• discovering and recognizing birds from the story: blackbird, pigeon, magpie, sparrow, blue tit (see the story’s pictures). Investigating what on the feeding board the birds like to eat.
• discovering and recognizing ticklish creatures:  bee, beetle, ladybug, spider, ant on and around the trees, under wood or bark or stone (these creatures briefly come up for discussion in the text of image 10).
• learning to use bird’s and ticklish creatures’ identification cards.

 

Make use of media

• put an examination table near the window: binoculars, photos of birds, identification cards, ...
• video school television: growing of a plant, flower, tree.
• there are a lot of picture books about this: see for example Eric Carle, "A seed in the wind".
• development materials, e.g. Rolf’s "growth puzzles": from seed to sunflower, tree throughout the seasons, blackbirds (this is how blackbirds build their nest and teach their young to fly so that they in turn can build a nest again), ...

 

Free play
•    Bring sowing and planting material into the doll corner
•    Offer step-by-step plans for sowing and planting.

 

For those who want even more

• follow a tree through the seasons. See the action: “adopt a tree”.
• tree types: fruit trees, blossoms, peace tree, lime tree, male / female, birth tree, memorial tree, celebrated trees, trees of years, maypole, Christmas tree, ...
• trees elsewhere: tell stories under the baobab, see e.g. Loske Judith, "Unter dem Baobab".

 

Encourage participation by children and their environment

• the children choose the trees and bird(s) they want to know more about. Formulating and elaborating the children’s own research questions.
• visit or invite someone in the classroom: (grand) parent with an interesting hobby, someone from the green service of the municipality or organization, tree hugger, bird lover, forester, tree surgeon, garden designer, garden landscaping, plant nursery, timber trade, sawmill,….
• follow a tree over the years (growth throughout the grades): repeating the story in "higher grades"; engage primary school children as experts by experience and as storytellers in kindergarten.
• children bring picture books from the library about birds and trees to the classroom.

Activities to perform together with the children

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Together with the children you can already pamper existing plants and trees even more

You can adopt a tree from the forest or the surrounding area

After experimenting, the children can knowingly plant seeds and plants indoors and outdoors

Toddlers can also take extra care of birds

You can also choose, together with the children, to turn it into a big celebrating and show moment 

If you want to make the playground and the school greener, participation by the children is very important

People from the surrounding area can also participate

For those who want even more

 

Together with the children you can already pamper existing plants and trees even more

• See observation of trees and plants: clear away, watering,…
• Hugging trees, feeling, cherish, surrounding, singing, dancing, decorating, garland or flags, apply knitting, games, meditation moment, yoga, photography, ...

 

You can adopt a tree from the forest or the surrounding area

• This means that you choose the tree you’ll follow throughout the year.
• See the article by Kees Both in “Adopt a tree! Nature education: Trees all year round.”
In: “The World of the Young Child, September 2006, pp. 2-5.” Which tree will you choose? Tips for activities throughout the school year. Create a classroom tree-book and -corner. Work out individual 'tree folders'.

 

After experimenting, the children can knowingly plant seeds and plants indoors and outdoors.

• This can be done on a bare spot that has to be manipulated first
• You can also decide to place planters on the playground. The children figure out how to collect rainwater to give the plants extra water when necessary.
• Maybe two or more tiles can be broken up so as to green the playground with seeds and plants.

 

Toddlers can also take extra care of birds

• They can provide rainwater in drinking bowls.
• They can install and observe a feeding board and make a feeding ball.
• They can participate in counting campaigns.
​​​​

 

You can also choose, together with the children, to turn it into a  big celebrating and show moment

• You can work with a top 3 of trees that can be planted (see the back of picture 11 – “Tree is happy”).
• Others have the opportunity to become acquainted with the story of Tree looking for a school, the visual work, theme table, research table and the outcomes of the research, ...
• Planting the tree goes hand in hand with festivities, singing, a speech, making a commitment to the tree, a children's drink where the tree also gets water, ...
• Self-made or found "feathers" can be given to children who help each other just like the birds in the story, to teachers, maintenance staff, principal, others.
• The adoption of a tree could be celebrated.
• A remembrance tree could be planted at a special event.
• As a present, a small plant could be given.
• Possibly, you can also insert your action in an action by the municipality or an association.

 

If you want to make the playground and the school greener, participation by the children is very important

• The children can learn to exchange their views on different topics: the playground, trees and birds. They can make suggestions, for example, when choosing a good spot for the small TREE seed is on the agenda. Or they can decide to leave it that way and focus on improving the existing playground.
• The children can help decide which tree to plant.
• They can be challenged to choose other actions and who they want to reach with them (other classes, principal, maintenance staff, municipality, press,…).
• They can explain to each other and to others outside the classroom why trees and birds are important. They can show how to take care of them.
• The children can choose to learn to stand up for more trees and plants at school. This can be done in different ways, for example: writing a letter and handing it over to the principal or chairman, a parade, placing signs where trees should be planted, ...
• The toddlers can help make choices in the preparation and organization of a show moment.
• They make choices in the visual process of their experiences that are exhibited during the show moment.

 

People from the surrounding area can also participate

• Invite someone who knows and can explain how to plant a tree and how to prune, fertilize and care for it, ...
• Involve parents and grandparents in the choice of the top 3 trees to plant at school.
• Invite parents and grandparents, another class, or others at a show moment.

 

For those who want even more

• Trees elsewhere: see, for example, the picture book about Wangari Muta Maathai (Kenya 2004) who got a Nobel Prize with a major tree planting campaign.
• Trees and forests in current affairs: save the forest, forest fires, trees that have to be removed for a cycle path, exotics, reclamation of the Amazon forest, burning wood, ...