Growing Tree-Lovers: Visitor Joins Us to “Talk About Trees”

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.

Spring Blossoms– Outside and Inside the Classroom

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Walking to school, Susan scooped up a bunch of pink cherry blossoms adorning the sidewalk. She put out card stock, glue, glue brushes, and petals, and then invited children to create spring blossom collages. This is a quintessential example of HFP curriculum: hands-on activity, celebrating the natural world, and mirroring what is seasonally relevant.

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Hiking Near Balch Creek

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HFP families gathered just east of the Audubon Society in the quixotic early spring weather to join in circle time and to sing songs for the earth and her creatures.

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We headed down the trail towards the pavilion and pond where cutthroat trout live. The murky pond promised possible glimpses of frogs and turtles…

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Continuing towards the creek, and splitting off in groups, we saw different native plants:

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We played a predator/prey chase game in which mice (children) could nestle into a hole or camouflage themselves in order to avoid becoming the owl’s (Teacher Susan’s) next meal.

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We got up close to many native friends of the sky, water and earth.

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Our forest circle time included a birthday candle ritual and a farewell song for a friend’s last day before moving to Denmark .  How special to celebrate while surrounded by moss, fern and trees!

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It was a day of friends, trees, magnificent birds and lots of exploring!

We Love Trees

In preparation for our focus on trees, our Easel Share prompted children to consider thinking about what trees provide.

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WE LOVE TREES: Trees are beautiful, provide clean air and are homes to many critters. Can you think of a critter that lives in trees? Can you think of a fruit you like to eat that grows on trees?

Monday/Wednesday

Avery:  Pears! Kitties run up trees!

Tennessee:  Monkeys! Nuts!

Alta:  Squirrels and BANANAS!

Liam:  Birds and Oranges

Milo:  Termites, apples

Thatcher: Strawberries, warthog

Nate:  Birds, oranges, bananas, avocados

Lenore: Squirrels, pears

Beryl:  Spiders live in trees, mangos grow in trees

Ezra:  Squirrels, birds, apples, bananas

Sahas: Squirrels! Plum!

Tuesday/Thursday

Drexler:  A porcupine and a peach.

Matilda:  A cardinal and woodpeckers; bananas

June:  Birds, owls

Leo:  Lemons, apples, bananas, squirrel

Simon:  Squirrel; pear

Milo:  Birds! And they lay eggs and Milo loves bananas and apples!

Samson:  Squirrels and Apples!

Shoshana: Birds and bananas

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We invited a representative from Talk About Trees Oregon Forest Education Program to visit us at circle.

HFP’s nature curriculum mirrors Talk About Trees’  Goals:

  • To encourage awareness and appreciation for the value of trees and forests in our daily lives; and
  • To encourage an understanding about the protection, management and conservation of the renewable forest.

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We could build our own “trees” for snack using pretzels, peanut butter, and grapes.

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We went for a walk in the neighborhood, noticing the range of colors with fallen leaves. We matched leaves to their closest paint chip swatch, taping them down to make leaf collages.

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We found an ideal climbing tree as well as a tree swing to try out.

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Back in the play yard, we have been playing with leaves, wheel-barrowing leaves, jumping in leaves, and raking and cleaning up leaves.

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We are finding leaves to be an amazing natural treasure.