Monday, September 21, 2015

Ideas for Observing Trees with Preschoolers


Trees offer great opportunities for seasonal observations because;

  1. They are readily available and can often be observed from inside the classroom simply by looking out the window. 
  2. They offer obvious visual examples of seasonal changes.
  3. They can easily be revisited over an extended period of time.
  4. Observing trees is completely free. 
Start your observations by having your class help choose a tree that they want to make "their tree."  Check on the tree every couple of weeks.  During some points throughout the year the changes will happen more rapidly, revisit the tree more often during these periods. 

As you engage the children in observations, consider doing some of these activities:
  • Have the children draw pictures of the tree and post them in a classroom gallery.  Draw pictures of the tree every couple of months and add to your gallery each time to illustrate how the tree has changed (and how their drawings have improved). 
  • Give the children the camera and let them take pictures of the tree.  These photos will give you a better understanding of what fascinates them the most about the tree. They will also give you the opportunity to see the tree from the children's perspective.  Print the photos and add them to your gallery.  The drawings and photos will create a timeline for the tree right in your classroom. 
  • Make lists of the words that describe the tree each time you observe it.  These will help children practice noticing details and encourage new vocabulary.  You can include these lists in your classroom gallery. 
  • Collect leaves, seed pods, bark, berries, and blossoms that have fallen off the tree.  Research these items and explore them with magnifying glasses.  Add them to your gallery with contact paper or shadow boxes, giving the children concrete objects to connect to their observations. You can also include any research materials and discussion questions.  
These activities will create a memorable experience for your students, and ensure that they fully understand seasonal changes!

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