Spending time teaching among the trees

“Time spent among trees is never wasted.” Katrina Mayer

Most people think of trees as something to plant for generations to come, to appreciate, study, read, write poetry about, have a picnic under, or take a nap beside. They can be safe places during tag, or places to climb and hide. A stump or a freshly cut log can also be a handy thing when people are frustrated, too. Tree time is never wasted.

Pounding nails into a piece of wood is very healthy. Have you ever watched babies pound down pegs with a plastic hammer? They pound and bounce with glee.

No matter what season of our life, here is a method for relieving stress by using tools and a tree. You’ll need several hammers, a variety of nails, a ruler or tape measure, a tree stump, or a soft board and a camera. Older children may like to learn how to use a drill and screws.

Talk About it

Scout around with children to find a tree stump at least the size of a dinner plate. Plan to pound in some nails on the top. Take a moment to teach about safety when someone is using a hammer and check out the different kinds and sizes of hammers and the various nails. Count out a variety of large nails and look for things that are the same and different. Use words like more, less, force, rough, smooth, pointy, sharp, hard, center, edge, shiny, rusty, lichen, moss, and tree rings. Look at the tree stump. What happened to this tree? How does the stump smell? Is there still bark on the sides? Can you see any roots?

Nailing it

Children can choose hammers and nails to pound away leaving enough of the nail exposed to pull out later. Sometimes an older person must start the nail. Whose nail went in the farthest with four pounds? Are some of them crooked? Did children make any designs or shapes?

When everyone has had a few turns, count how many nails are in the stump and how many are left. Take pictures of the stump and workers to show and tell stories to others later. Then pull the nails back out and take them with you. Paint the date on the stump to remember this time.

Children will like to stand on the stump and jump down. They can pretend to be statues, animals, or stand tall and shout or scream. Can you count the rings together? Measure the top of the stump or perhaps the height from the ground. Then find a living tree and quietly read “The Giving Tree,” by Shel Silverstein, together and have a snack. Take a quiet picture, too.

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Grandparents Teach, Too is written by a group of teachers and former teachers who contribute ideas and resources to help educate children and grandchildren. For more GTT articles and resources, visit them online at grandparentsteachtoo.blogspot.com.


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