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Monday, November 17, 2014

How old is this tree?

To start off our mild November morning, we took a hike on Riverbend's "Jack in the Pulpit" trail along Saw Mill Run. The class really loves this trail; they find it mysterious because the past couple times we have hiked it the weather has been foggy and wet. It is such an amazing place to visit the trees with its beautiful tall Tulip Poplars and Maples. We stopped a couple times along the way to feel different bark textures and do some bark rubbings in our journals. Due to erosion along the stream , we were able to see intricate root systems. 
 The class loves Tulip Poplar leaves! They call them "cat face leaves" and we just can't resist turning into a pack of cats when we find them, purring and clawing at each other in a fit of giggles.

On our hike, we found a large fallen tree and counted the rings to figure out its age. It was over 61 years old! We wondered about all the things that tree might have seen over the years.
We filled our bodies with warm granola and pumpkin muffins for snack (thank you Jonathon and Amy!) and read "Tess's Tree" by Jess Brallier. An adorable book about a little girl and her favorite tree. After reading the story, we brainstormed why trees are important. They decided trees were important for climbing and swinging, as animal homes, to make tables, chairs and houses, to build fires and for breathing. All very important things!

We met our guest speaker Mrs. Jeanne Angell to learn more about trees and to plant our very own class tree. We planted a Swamp White Oak and they named it "Swampy Jeanne" after Mrs. Jeanne. 
 When teaching about trees it is easy to show children the bark, roots, branches and leaves but to learn about the innards of a tree is a different story. I wanted them to become the tree! To do this we did a"Tree Factory" activity where they use their bodies to act out different parts of the tree. We talked about the heartwood, the xylem, the phloem in addition to the roots, the bark, and the leaves. For each part of the tree there was a sound and hand motion attached that was repeated. It was quite the tree symphony! 

To work on our math skills, we examined tree cookies and estimated the ages of the tree by counting the rings. We imagined that we were trees and drew our life as a wood cookie in our nature journals. 

A day isn't complete with out a little fun in the leaves!
"Time spent amongst trees is never wasted time." 
-Katrina Mayer

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