Trees are everywhere in this garden city that we live in. Some trees stand so high from the ground or wide at the trunk that you can't help but stop to admire their immensity, like the Tembusu tree we are blessed to have onsite at Wildlings. The Tembusu tree is almost the first thing that catches people’s attention when they enter our space. Did you know that the Tembusu tree is 120 years strong and some children, even adults too, have had the privilege of climbing it? We felt that it would be fun to suggest some activities revolving around trees to honor this marvelous living structure of ours.
Trees enrich our Forest School experiences in many ways and we would like to inspire you to explore and identify those around your home. Trees can provide different natural loose parts for your child's investigations about the world, such as seed pods, flowers, scents, leaves, bark and branches. Here's some ideas on what we can do with the bounty from our tropical trees! Don't forget to return things to nature when you are done.
Activity 1: Get to Know 10 Trees (activity suggested by NParks)
We're surrounded by amazing tropical trees, but how many can you name? If you take the time to learn a few its more likely that your child will take notice and learn a few too. Take a look at our gallery below and see how many you are familiar with. Can you think of any that are nearby to your home? If you're walking around the neighbourhood with your child, stop by a tree and take a moment to notice the interesting things about it - perhaps it is one of the special trees we've highlighted below.
Here are some prompts for you:
Look at the texture of the bark, how would you describe it?
What is the shape of the tree? Can you compare it to a similar shape? A heart, or an umbrella perhaps?
Are there visible flowers? Can you find one? Do they smell? What colour are they?
How do the leaves feel? are they furry, waxy, weak or strong? Smaller than your hand or bigger than your head?
Can you find the seedpods? They come in all shapes and sizes and in the tropics you get some quite huge ones.
Give the tree a hug, you know you want to....
Activity 2: Creating with Nature
If you come across some interesting trees (on private land, such as your child's school or a friend's garden) start a collection of the things you find fallen from the tree. Bark and many seedpods keep quite well, and leaves and flowers can be pressed to preserve them. You can buy many natural loose parts from marketplaces online (we've seen mahogany pods from Etsy and Saga seeds on Amazon before).
The more colourful and interesting your collection, and especially if your child has participated in assembling it, the more interested they will be in creating with it.
So what can you do with your natural treasures? SO many things! Here's a few ideas:
Make the alphabet (or your Childs name)
Using sticks and yarn. Choose chunky yarn to reduce the time it takes and need for great fine motor skills which still may be developing. You can also wrap the sticks in fabric and then wrap in yarn. This is also a great activity if you have big sticks and want to make a big letter.
Make Memory Sticks
Using a wonderful stick you found whilst out and about and a collection of natural items. First cover your stick in elastic bands (you might have also collected some of these whilst out and about, we often find them discarded) then find a natural item to represent a memory, or something important to you, then secure the item to the stick with the elastic. Even very little hands can tuck their chosen treasures under the elastic. At the end of the exercise you'll have created a memory stick which has meaning and has helped your child reflect on the good things in their life. Try doing this together and create a memory stick each, when we share, our children are more likely to share too.
Make a Frame
Fallen flowers stay fresh for just a moment. The best way to preserve them is to capture them in an image.
You can arrange them into a frame, snap a picture and then you have a lovely background to use for some digital art. We've used software to remove the background (we use Canva) then inserted a picture of our children to make the activity meaningful for them. Here's the result of a few minutes work and it was quite fun to play around with it!
Use your natural items to create the face of someone you know, or an animal, or anything really. You could invite your child to think of an emotion, and create a face which represents that emotion.
You can stick it down with glue to keep it, or snap a photo then reuse the items to make something else.
There are lots of templates online you can use to help create faces with loose parts.
Make a Pattern
Chances are your child has investigated the idea of creating patterns at school. Probably from a mathematical perspective, but likely also in Art as well.
How about bringing in an element of ICT to really get the imaginations going?
You could take it in turns to lay down a natural item and make a symmetrical pattern like this nature mandala. Snap a picture, then upload it to your computer.
Use whatever layout software you have (we've used Canva again) and get that pattern repeating to see what magic you can make. If you hit on a good one, there are lots of online ordering services which will custom make coasters, notebooks, and bags for example, to display your very own absolutely unique and one of a kind design.
We hope you have enjoyed connecting with nature and, specifically, our wonderful trees! If you'd like to take the learning further here are some links to read aloud books your children can listen to whilst you take a moment for yourself:
· Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry - https://youtu.be/zCvwT_qbeiE
· Tap the Magic Tree by Christine Matheson - https://youtu.be/crzYxOeIDdM
· Tree by Britta Teckentrup - https://youtu.be/zLESl99U_C4
· Not A Stick by Antoinette Portis - https://youtu.be/jwqxd4SfNcw
If you had a go at any of these activities please send us a photo to share with out community via WhatsApp to 8875 5919 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org