I am a parent volunteer at the boys first ever summer camp at a local nature sanctuary. Unless you’re suffocating or helicoper-ing, parent involvement equals more success for our children. Lend your strengths to your children’s classrooms any chance you get. On the last day of camp, Big K and I team up to create a lesson plan about the forest.
Big K brings in a giant tree cookie, explaining the science of tree rings: how you can tell the age of a tree and how you can tell what years were good growing years for the tree and how bark serves as a protector for the vulnerable growing part of the tree.
Big K introduces himself as a forester and explains what that means, scientist of the forest. He reads a great children’s book given to us by a great forester friend of ours.
Forestry by Jane Drake, Anne Love and Pat Cupples, explores an important and controversial American industry, looking at everything from the methods used to cut trees to the planting of new seedlings. While reading this book, the reader travels with the logs to the mills and sees what happens inside a sawmill and a pulp and paper mill.
He takes the kids outside to his work truck and shows them his forestry tools: chain saw, tree corer, stray paint for marking trees, hard helmet, measuring tools etc.
We also read The Busy Tree by Jennifer Ward and illustrated by Lisa Falkenstern, describes the amazing activities that go on in a tree from its roots to its branches, “breathing out air for all to breathe in.”
We take a walk through the conserved forests around the sanctuary where the kids pick up leaves and Big K identifies the type of tree it came from. We find oak, maple and birch leaves, witch hazel, indian cucumber, acorns and pine cones. We also find lots of mosquitoes.
Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber, Illustrated by Leslie Evans. “The green leaves of spring and summer make food for the tree from water, air and sunshine. The tree food made in the leaves is a kind of sugar that keeps the leaves alive and helps the tree to grow.
“I send roots down deep into the earth. I am focused and stable. I reach high to the sky. I am a beautiful tree.
What kind of tree are you? Feel yourself growing. Bend with the wind. You are supple enough to weather any storm.”
When we get back to the classroom, we practice some nature yoga: the river pose, the rock, the turtle, and the tree pose. We also make a list of “things that happen in nature.” I call out the natural phenomena kids add to the list, like clouds, cattails, water, birds, fish, etc, and we act them out with our bodies.