Lisa: What do they do when they’re cold?
Jossie: They drop their leaves?
Elle: ‘Cause that makes them warm.
Lisa: You think dropping their leaves makes them warmer? Why would that be?
Lou Lou: It makes them warm.
Elle: No it makes them cold.
Lisa: It’s kinda confusing, right? ‘Cause when they drop their leaves it’s like they’re naked. Does taking off your clothes make you colder or warmer?
Lisa: Then why do you think they take off their leaves when it gets cold?
Elle: Naked trees are out!
Margaret: Naked silly trees are out.
Lisa: So it gets cold and the leaves come off the trees…
Jossie: And then they’re nudie.
Lisa: So I’ve been wondering how the trees feel in this weather. Like did you notice the wind yesterday? Did you notice the trees?
As this is being written, the Rainey Room friends are downstairs erupting in fits of excitement as the Great Zucchini amazes both children and adults with his magic and tricks. They are downstairs celebrating Will's birthday. From the moment Will arrived, friends were presenting him with gifts and cards they had been making him. Then his parents came and read one of Will's favorite books, The Snatchabook. A mystery about books that have been disappearing in the forest. The birthday committee gathered to give Will his wishing rock and card. We sang to Will and love him to bits! Happy Birthday Will, you're amazing!
Wishes for Will:
Grace:I wish he had a big huge train
Austin: I wish he could have a treasure chest with gold inside.
Rowan: I wish he had a ginormous crane.
All this raises a bigger question: What does it mean to be “alive?” We’ll likely get to that one, but today in morning meeting, we decided to revisit the original question and try to further examine our theories.
Rachael asks if trees are alive, using the tree in our classroom (borrowed from the entryway) as an example, and the general consensus is “no.” She then asks how we know this.
Sally: Because it doesn’t have seeds or little plants. So it can’t talk. It doesn’t have a mouth, or eyes.
Austin: Or a head. It only has one whole body.
Will: But it does have a trunk.
Jack: Did you know that trees are living things?
Rachael: How do you know that? Some friends think that they’re living. Some think that they’re not. I’m wondering why you think they’re living things.
Jack: Plants are living things too. Plants are living and trees are.
Rachael: Is there a way we can tell if a tree is living?
Jack: If they’re dead, then all the leaves fall off at once.
Rachael: So the trees outside now, the ones we can see through the window, what are those?
Kian: They don’t have leaves.
Jack: Those are cold trees.
Rachael: What does that mean? Tell me more.
Jack: That their leaves fall off.
Rachael: If they’re cold, does that mean they’re alive or dead?
Rachael: So they’re still alive even though they don’t have any leaves on them?
Jack: If they’re just cold.
Last week, Will suggested that we know trees are alive because they grow. Today in meeting, he reversed his position, saying they do not grow so they are not alive. We wanted to see what others thought.
Rachael: Do trees grow?
Rachael: How do they grow?
Jack: Water, and sunshine.
Rowan: And then they start growing.
Rachael: How do they grow?
Austin: Roots give them the water.
Kian: They only have bones.
Rachael: Where are their bones?
Kian: In the tree.
Rachael: What do tree bones look like?
Kian: they’re just like circles in the water.
Rachael: Can you tell us more?
Kian: I can’t do any more of it.
Austin: They have sawdust inside.
Rachael: Does anyone else have ideas?
Elle: When trees don’t have any leaves and they all fall off, when it’s winter time the trees are cold because they don’t have any leaves and the leaves keep them warm. And in the summertime the trees get back their leaves. And then in the fall the leaves fall down.
Rachael: After the leaves fall down, how do they know when to come back?
Elle: They come back in the summer.
Lisa: And how do they come back?
Elle: The tree grows new leaves.
Rachael: How does a tree know when to grow new leaves?
Elle: Because when they feel the sunshine and they feel hot, they know how to plant some leaves.
Rachael: I hear people saying things like the tree’s cold, the tree feels things, the tree knows things—so does that mean it’s alive or it’s still not alive?
Elle: If it’s not alive and if the branches are gone and if the tree fell down, that means it’s dead.
Lisa: So what do others think about that?
By this time—twelve minutes in—we were spent. We still aren’t sure how to test these theories about whether trees are alive and what that means. So we’ll keep exploring...
Inside, the children were greeted by a forest! Lisa and Rachael gathered plants and trees from all over St John’s and created a dark green forest with squirrels and birds in the trees. The children wanted us to take the squirrels out of the trees to take care of them. We challenged the children to find a way to get the squirrels down. Jack stacked two stumps so he could reach and Austin noticed he could bend the branch down until it was low enough for him to grab the squirrel. After feeding the squirrels, we fed ourselves and had a forest picnic!
A few weeks ago, the children worked to create sculptures out of papier mâché and this week we finished decorating them. We used some decorative fabric scraps and covered them in mod podge to attach them to our structures. Initially, we set up teams to create each structure, but as the sculptures developed, the teams shifted and different children worked on each other's sculptures. It is interesting to see which creations the children express ownership over, and which they allow to be collaborative. Maybe they found it easier to detach from these sculptures because they transform so drastically after each stage.
Stages of Work
There are trees growing everywhere in the Rainey Room. Yesterday, we created a winter tree based on a home research photo from Jossie’s grandparents’ house. Children used three-dimensional collage materials to create the tree structure and cover it with snow.
Will and Austin revisited he classroom tree that inspired this work, drilling holes and placing pegs to join our stumps and transform them (back) into a tree trunk.
Today, we played a Kiwi Crate game that Jack brought in to share, in which children took turns adding roots and leaves to balance the tree.
Later, children grew a paper collage palm based on one of our trees from the winter home research project.
Inspired by Isabelle’s apple tree in the The Story Orchestra: Four Seasons in One Day, a few children decided to try to grow our own apple tree from the seeds in a discarded apple core.
And at the easel, we completed an image of a winter tree by painting limbs, branches, roots and leaves.
Each of our trees was so different, and with each one we learned something new. We learned about symmetry and proportion both in nature and in our representation. We are learned that branches are connected to the trunk. We thought more deeply about growth and regeneration. And we had fun.
Today we celebrated Austin's half birthday! His mom read his favorite story, David and Goliath, and Austin walked around our birthday candle four and a half times. Friends presented him with his wishing rock and we had a special birthday picnic with birthday brownies. Thank you to the Edmondson family and Eva for celebrating with us.
Today, the Rainey Room had the good fortune to be the first children to enjoy the fresh, powdery, beautiful snow-covered outdoor classroom. There wasn't quite enough snow (or desire) to build a snowman, but we dug, groomed, threw, and ate snow all morning. And we discovered that going down a snowy slide is not at all like sledding.
Eating snow was probably the favored activity. We talked a lot about making sure the snow was clean--"No yellow snow!" Leigh informed everyone (or brown or purple, for that matter). Rooftops and fences seemed to be the preferred places for gathering snow to eat. Gotta stay hydrated!
Back in the classroom, several children decorated the papier mache sculptures we started before winter break. What could be cozier than a decoupage session with good friends? The only things we were missing were a fire and hot cocoa. What a dreamy way to start the week!
by Lisa & Rachael
Pieces of Tucker Room experiences.