“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.” ― Hermann Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte
Nature Club today had us exploring the silent magic of the tree. When we put our hands on the trunk of a tree, to know that it is full of life yet it is so solid, still and strong sends conflicting messages to our senses. To realize the complexity of it and how its strong roots reach deep into the ground to bring life-giving nutrients to its leaves is truly amazing. To know how it withstands the most severe weather conditions, changing surroundings and other living inhabitants without budging or flinching is the reason the symbol of a tree represents strength and life to us all.
After learning about the different parts and types of trees, we headed outside in the 20 degree weather of Connecticut to explore. Our first challenge was to find one tree with rough bark and one tree with smooth bark and to record it in our Nature Notebooks by doing tree rubbings on each.
One little explorer who is so extremely enthusiastic each Saturday morning about our nature discoveries found this very interesting branch that wound itself through the school gate.
We also looked for the tallest tree in our surroundings and the shortest tree. We looked for evergreen trees and deciduous trees. We found berries, bark and lots of ice and then we realized how very cold we were, so we found our way back inside.
Inside we created our own tree bark pendants (I’m not calling them necklaces because we have so many boys in class). The children worked so hard on them and they came out beautiful. Each child quickly put their
necklace pendant on and visited each one of their friends to see what other children came up with.
Then we played a game of ‘Old Oak’ which is played the same way as Old Maid. Each card has a match and the correct tree name for the type of leaf on it. It is a wonderful way to begin introducing children to tree identification and they LOVED it.
They made me promise to bring the cards again next week.
And so I will.
Go on your own tree hunt!
Can you find:
A tree with rough bark?
A tree with smooth bark?
A tree stump?
A branch in the shape of a Y?
A branch with leaves?
A branch without leaves?
An evergreen tree?
A deciduous tree (looses leaves in winter)?
A nest in a tree?
A tree with a hole?
A baby tree?
A very old tree?
A tree with sap?
A dead tree?
A fallen down tree?
Roots of a tree?
Have fun and please share your adventure with us!