Sunday, November 17, 2013

Tree Exploration

Children's theories about trees

Sometimes trees are attached to each other.
Trees grow like vegetables, very big.
When big trees come the little trees get cut down by the big trees.

Trees are plants.

How can you tell if a tree is old?
When a tree has been there a long time.
There are old leaves on the tree.
They have big branches.
Young trees have bumps on their bark.
Old trees, their bark comes off.

How do trees drink water?

It rains and the water gets sucked into the soil, then it goes up all the way.

Rain comes from clouds, it dribbles on trees. 
 The soil goes into the trees and then into some little holes, that makes trees grow.

The rain goes into the soil and trees grow big and strong and they are Daddy and Mommy.


Why do trees have bark?
Trees have sap.  Bark covers the trees.
Baby monkeys, daddy,mommy, brother and sister have boo boos on their hands.  They use the tree sap for medicine.


The children noticed this tree and wondered why it had bricks inside it.
One child said it was a secret passage.
Another said you can climb up it.

As we were walking the children noticed the leaves were different colors. When it is Fall the leaves change colors and after Fall they don't change color.

Trees grow every day and every night.

Here you see some of the first drawings by the children.  Notice that they do not draw them as they see them but they draw their relationship with them.

How do trees eat?
The food drops into the stems....they are growing....the Summer is hot...the sun comes up and the leaves fall off.

Using oil pastels they revealed 
the bark of the tree on the paper.

Colors all over, mixed together.
It looks like a rainbow tree.
We colored it.

The next day the teachers set up the paper to form a tree, for a provocation.  The children begin to play inside the structure.

The children integrate their thinking of trees into their play.  They also seem to relate the trees to family.
The teachers and children will continue this inquiry.   How will the children continue their relationship with the trees on our campus?

As the children were drawing they discussed more of their theories.
Some of the children believed that the tree was a girl, (with a princess inside) some said it was a boy.
One boy thought there should be faces on the tree.
A few girls said there was blood inside.

I look forward to seeing the direction the children will take next.  Will they represent trees in other mediums?  Will they write stories?




The Forest


We are so fortunate to have the beautiful forest right at our doorstep.  It is here, more than any other place, that the children challenge themselves physically, engage their imaginations in pretend play, extend friendships, and explore treasures from nature.  This year we noticed the children's ease and comfort, even on our first outing into the wilderness.  In most years, the first few times we go into the forest we hear many references to scary things - Are we too far away? Do we know the way back?  Are there bears in this forest, or wolves?  They also often recall people and things that bring them comfort, like parents and stuffed animals and blankets at home.  This fear that we usually hear, and can even feel, draws us closer together.  

But this year we did not hear those questions about scary things and so we wonder what is different.   Is the feeling of connection that we noticed in the classroom at the beginning of the year extending into the forest as well, and providing a sense of comfort and safety?  

For the teachers, our love of the forest started years ago at our Grace Street campus.  In that tiny wooded area adjacent to the parking lot, we noticed how differently the children played than on the playground.  The wild space provided a completely different landscape both external and internal.  It sparked so much rich and varied creativity, imagination, and enthusiasm. 

We see every year, in the natural environment, that children willingly push and test themselves.  

They take on just enough challenge, not being too risky, but definitely going to the edge of their own comfort.  We marvel at their intuition and bravery in choosing challenges that seem to suit their individual needs.

And we see them work together on big challenges, moving heavy branches to build bridges and dams.  
We see their persistence and resilience as they try again and again on their way to mastery.  Is it because nature is impartial?

"children come to know themselves through their transactions with both the physical and social worlds. Unlike people, the physical world does not change in response to a child's actions, but simply reflects his manipulations, so it offers a particularly valuable domain for developing his or her sense of competence"

Hart, Volkert and Walch, 1983

This blog was written in collaboration with Robyn, (who always makes it better).  And thanks to Anna for providing the above quote.