“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.“- author unknown
We hosted our first in-person small group activity of the year! Joan from Talk About Trees (Oregon Forestry’s Education Program), meets with four different groups in the grassy area adjacent to our play yard. Thanks to the stewardship of the good people at Common Grounds, the area is full of majestic trees.
Upon arrival, children joyfully greet each other. Some run down the steep grassy slope, taking big, deliberate steps to make their way back up. Some collect needles, twigs and cones to build a “nest.” Others run circles around the giant needled tree that we are soon to gather under. Unsolicited, one’s child joy is contagious as she invites us to “hug a tree!”
After a short stint of free play, we gather to see what is in Joan’s tree-patched pouch. Joan pulls out treasurer after treasure- laminated maple leaves of various sizes, seed pods and cones… and on.
Joan encourages us to notice the trees close by. Some have leaves while others have needles. We use our bodies to mirror what we see happening with the surrounding trees surrounding. We spread out our fingers to mimic trees with leaves, and we use our pointer fingers to mimic trees with needles.
Now it is time to survey the area and get to know trees up close. As we walk the grounds, Joan invites us on a scavenger hunt– similar to what we’ve been doing in our virtual classes. This time, instead of finding objects from our homes to share, we get to find specific tree treasures: A fallen red leaf, a helicopter seed pod to fly, a giant ponderosa cone.
One child sprints away from the group to a tree that had been topped. His mom relaxedly values his interest and lets him check it out.
We learn that Cedar trees are super soft and splinter-free. So we pet one! We venture to an enormous Ponderosa Pine towering above us.
Then Joan gathers us beneath a huge Doug fir tree. She tells us a story that will help us identify Douglas fir cones. Douglas the mouse helps his mice friends escape the clutch of a hungry coyote. Each time the coyote is close, Douglas coaches his little rodent friends to run away. After running and running, they hide inside a cone–a final hiding spot. The coyote cannot find them and heads home to have some macaroni and cheese instead. The mice are safe!
Joan encourages us to look closely at the cones beneath the Doug Fir tree. We can see the pointy mouse claws or mouse tails poking out. This lets us know the the tell-tale sign of a Douglas Fir cone versus other cones with rounded sides.
What a joy it is to be together again! And even more so outside among the splendor of these gentle giants!
Thanks to Joan and Talk About Trees Program.