Our Tree!

I attended an AMAZING workshop while I was at the MIAEYC conference in Grand Rapids. The presenters shared all kinds of great ideas for sprucing up your science activities. (I'm sure I will be referring back to this workshop for quite some time.) What I really loved about it was that the presenters had so many photos and activities that are simple and are easily integrated into any setting. (I apologize for the poor photos to start. Unfortunately, my camera did not like the lighting in the presentation room, so my photos from Grand Rapids did not turn out well at all.)

Basically, you take 3 cardboard boxes, cut round holes in them to make homes for your "tree critters", paint them and hook them together.  At the workshop, I was told that they tried a variety of different things as branches, but what worked the best was to use actual branches/sticks.

 We drew our circles and used a box cutter to carve out our circles.
 We decided to use brown, green, and black paint for our tree.

 Painting our boxes was team work. We each took a color and added to all of the sides.

 We cut and painted 3 boxes like the original idea, but I bet you could make your tree with as many boxes as you wanted to.
 When the paint dried, we stacked our boxes on top of each other. We were going to hold them together with zip ties, but, we were out!
 So, we punched holes in the boxes (on the inside where you can't see) and held them together by threading pipe cleaners through the holes.

Now our tree is ready for some branches and some playing! We've been collecting some good branches when we have been outside. A little bit of hot glue and we will be good to go!

During the workshop, I learned that the children in the classroom spent time changing their tree with the seasons. You can add artificial leaves in various colors, blossoms, buds, etc. You can also add batting in the winter for snow.  We copied the design from the one I showed the children in the photo, but I bet you could alternate which side of the tree your holes are if you plan to put the tree where more sides could be easily accessed.

I know I don't have any photos of our tree "in use" but since adding it to our environment, the children have really loved to add any critters they could find to the tree. It has sparked some interesting debates and investigations into where certain animals live. The current debate is that whales and elephants do not really live in trees. However, as one of my little guys proudly stated "In imagination land they do!"

For those of you interested in the workshop, it was entitled: "Trees, Penguins, Seed, Recycling, Space and More: Innovative Ideas for Teaching Math and Science" it was presented by Sharon Grala, Darlene Pranion, Jenny Kluza, and Lisa Barker from the L'Anse Creuse Public Schools in Harrison Township, Michigan. 

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PreK + K Sharing


Yelena said…
Hi Amy! Thank you for blogging about yet another awesome idea (I must have half your posts bookmarked by now, lol). Is there a post on your blog where you describe the physical setup of your preschool, how you keep everything organized, etc? Also, here's a math course I think you'll be interested in (it's free and done online). It's about teaching math (beyond counting) to young children in a fun and unexpected way - http://www.p2pu.org/math-future/moebius-noodles-rich-math-families (Full disclosure - I'm one of the course organizers).
I'm glad someone else is finding some useful ideas! And.... thanks for the tip on the math course :). I'll check it out again when I'm back home. I don't have a post about how I keep things organized. You can see some of how I organize things in different areas of the house. I use a lot of totes and shelves, I feel like I'm always re-organzing and trying out different things :). Perhaps I will work on one of those posts in the near future.
This is a wonderful idea, I can imagine my children loving it!
It sounds like you had a great time at the conferences!
Yelena said…
Amy, I am with you - I feel like I'm always moving toys and boxes and shelves around my son's room. So I'm always curious to find out how others organize their playspaces especially when space is at a premium.

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