‘I am rooted. I am in good relationship with the place I inhabit.
I listen to the greater beings of the natural world.’
This activity will initiate a long-term relationship between your learning group and a tree in your natural environment. Through reading Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel children will explore what it means to have a relationship with a special tree. They will then be invited to name and form a relationship with a tree in their natural environment that lasts months or even years.
Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fmj5JIvE9DY
Start by reading Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel. After reading have discussion about the story. Oftentimes this story brings up feelings of loss. Children may want to discuss other losses they’ve experienced so be prepared to hold space for some grief that may come up. More than loss, this story is about love. It is a beautiful example of how special parts of the natural world can have a space in our hearts become like family.
After reading this book, talk about the trees in your own environment. You may already have connections to the trees around you. Discuss these connections.
Invite children to identify a tree in your natural environment you want to have a deeper connection with. Invite your children to spend some time sitting with that tree and then invite them to give it a name.
You can continue your relationship with this tree throughout the year.
Learn about the specie of your tree. Research it’s unique characteristics and growing needs.
Over the course of the next few months observe the tree and its changes. Sketch the tree in every season. Take a photo of the tree with your children every season to compare the growth and change of both the tree and your children.
Study the animals that inhabit the tree. Discuss the functions and features what makes it a good habitat for these creatures.
Make leaf and bark rubbing using crayons and paper.
Decorate the tree for outdoor events. Make a bird house/feeder for it.
Create rituals such as meditating with the tree, eating snack near it, gathering around it to sing songs, or visiting it for holidays.
Questions to ask
During the read aloud: How did this story make you feel? What were some of the happy memories the kids shared with their tree? Have you ever lost someone that was special to you? What were the happy memories you shared with them?
What makes the tree we chose special? In what ways can we become friends with this tree? How should we pick a name for this tree?
How do you think this tree will be different next season? What do you think changes about this tree throughout the year? What do you think stays the same?
How can we care for this tree?
What activities would you like to do with this tree?
Spend some quiet time with your tree. Introduce yourself and ask it if it has a name. Sit in silence and listen for a response.
Lay under your tree and silently look for living creatures who call the tree home.
Use the tree as a safe space you can go to for comfort when you are feeling sad or scared.