We have begun to study trees in the classroom during the past few weeks. I love introducing children to concepts about nature. We started our study by learning the parts of trees. I used the puzzle shown below from Montessori Concepts to teach them the parts. One thing I love about teaching children about nature is all the specific vocabulary that can be introduced to them. Even though I know how much children are capable of learning, I have learned not to take for granted what they do or don't know. For example, when presenting this puzzle to the group, I was a little surprised how many of them didn't know the correct words for "trunk" or "roots". That's what is so amazing and awe-inspiring about working with this age group. When you work with preschoolers you are truly giving them the words for the world around them, words that will become an intrinsic and inherent part of who they are.........and all because you took a few seconds to tell them the specific name for something. So powerful!
After learning about the parts of trees during group time, I put out a "Parts of Trees" booklet activity for them to do during our work period. You can see it set up in the photos below.
Attached to the back of the shelf is a set of "control" cards that the children may refer to so they color the correct parts of the blank tree booklet pages.
I had the booklets already prepared thanks to some of my helpful parents at our Materials Making Night in August. These were placed in a basket next to a little tray with the word labels.
Also on the shelf were the colored pencils needed for coloring and a basket with scissors, gluesticks and gluing mats.
Here is a completed page from one child's booklet. When I presented the lesson I modeled coloring the pages first, then cutting apart the labels and matching them to the correct pages using the control cards.
The child in the photo below is coloring her "roots" page.
And here it is........
I have had children as young as three years old complete these little booklets. What a sense of pride and accomplishment they feel when they can take home something so amazing that they've made by themselves! I am sure their parents will treasure these little booklets.
I love it when the children transfer their learning and demonstrate it in new contexts. Shortly after I had introduced the tree puzzle and booklet work, a child spontaneously drew the picture shown below during work time. He brought it to me to show that he had drawn all the parts of the tree. I thought this was just awesome!
We are fortunate to have a parent who is an arborist. I asked him if he could bring us a slice of a tree trunk so the children could look at it up close and learn about tree rings, etc. This week he brought a piece of Ponderosa pine. It is really huge and he estimated the tree to be over 70 years old. The children have loved looking at it up close with the magnifying glass. It smells really good too!