Trees provide joy, fun, and learning

GTT — One of the greatest childhood joys is climbing a tree high enough so that when you call down to your parents they look all over and can’t find you. Pediatricians are urging parents to take their children outside away from screens to explore nature—better for back and neck health, vision, and general health.

Naturalists have a few suggestions. You can take a walk in the backyard, park, or nature trail to explore trees any time of the year. Take along a camera, sketch pad and pencils, a bag for collections, ruler, tape measure, string, magnifying glass.

Children can look for the oldest tree, youngest, tallest, shortest, species, bark and seeds.

Teach Observation

Do children know the difference between deciduous and coniferous trees? Do they know what the leaves, roots, and trunk do for the tree? Why do deciduous leaves change colors and fall? Coniferous trees also lose some of their needles (leaves). Libraries and book stores have many interesting books about trees and identification for kids.

If you want to sneak in a little math, children can measure their hand span ahead of time and be carrying a measuring tool with them at all times. Then children can measure a large tree’s circumference and compare with others.

Getting back to climbing, there is usually a solid looking tree around fit to climb with a little boost. Even young children can sit on the lowest sturdy brand with adult supervision. What does it feel like to be among the leaves or flower petals like a squirrel? Can they see something they could not see standing on the ground? Old forests may have fallen trees that can be walked on like bridges.

Teach Measurement

How old are the trees? Children can count whirls of branches of young red and white pine trees to get an idea. Otherwise you’ll need a tree cookie slice to count the rings. Pin point rings when they and other members of the family were born.

How tall are some of the huge trees? On a sunny day you can measure the height of your child, a tree’s shadow, and figure out the height. Ask your child to lie down on top of the shadow with their feet touching the tree. Mark the tip of the child’s head on the ground as they move up the shadow. Then add up the total child lengths that cover the shadow.

You Tube has many movies showing children how to draw trees and other natural objects. “How to Draw Trees” by Denis John-Naylor and “20 ways to Draw a Tree” by Eloise Renouf are two of many excellent books.

For more fun in nature see grandparantsteach,too.blogspot.com and wnmufm.org/ Learning Through the Seasons live and pod casts.

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