Later in the classroom, Lisa shared a story at meeting: After we watched and listened to the last gusts of a very windy day yesterday, she had encountered a tree that had fallen across a road in her neighborhood. She shared some photos and the class was very interested and had lots of theories about what had happened.
Kian: The roots weren’t strong enough for the big tree. It was standing when it was sunny and windy a little bit. But when it’s windy a lot it is going to fall down.
Rowan: It was tipping.
Sam: I think the car was driving there and it hit the tree and it fell down.
Will: Maybe it fell down by itself. Maybe your daughter pushed it over.
Sally: I think the wind was so hard, maybe the lightning bolt started to come and wind was just blowing the ocean, and then the ocean came up top and started to break, and that’s why the roots came out and go to underwater. And then into the grass, and into the parking spot and into the ocean.
Charlie: I think someone pushed on it very hard.
Will: Maybe a monster did that.
Sam: Or maybe a dinosaur.
Louise: Dinosaurs and monsters are not real.
Leigh: Yeah, the monsters died.
Rowan: My sister told me that monsters are invisible but they’re still alive.
Grace: I think no one pushed it. I think a wind just did it.
Will: Maybe a big branch hit it down.
Grace: I think that because the wind is very hard and it just pushed very hard and that's what it does, and I think it woulda’ knock that tree over.
Will: Maybe the hard wind blew it down.
After a few minutes of speculation, Jossie asked a very interesting question:
Jossie: Why would the wind blow so hard and blow down only one tree?
Will: Maybe all the trees went like a domino topple and then it hit that tree.
Kian: I think some trash blow it down from the air.
Margaret: Maybe the wind really, really blew harder and harder and really knocked down the tree hard.
Jossie: But my question was why does the wind so strong blew only one tree down?
Sam: I think while everybody was sleeping lightning just crashed it down.
Lisa asked, “If lightning hit that tree, what would that look like? Has anyone ever seen that?" No one had. So Lisa suggested, “Maybe we can find out what that looks like.” She then told the class that she had no idea how to answer Jossie's question, but another tree expert would be coming to visit soon and now we have some great questions for her.
Will, still thinking about how the tree fell down, suggested, “Maybe you did that.”
Elle, looking forward to the tree expert, said, “My question is how can a tree pull out from the ground?”
Leigh, responding to Will, said, “I don’t think Lisa is strong enough.”
So many mysteries to unravel…
Elle: I think it’s a tiny apple!
Sally: Those are not apples, they’re not small, they’re big. You can’t taste them.”
Elle: But we can still collect them!
After our discussion we spent time carefully observing and drawing some of Anne’s sample twigs. Sam was very interested in the tiny buds of the Yew. Kian carefully observed the up and down direction of his branch and its tiny leaf buds.
After drawing, we headed to the outdoor classroom. We noticed that there are a few evergreens visible from the outdoor classroom and talked about the weeping willow a few yards over. Anne pointed out that it’s possible to see its buds even from this distance. Observing the silvery, flickering appearance of the leaves of one tree fluttering in the breeze, Will said, “It looks like a ghost.” Looking closely at the tress in the outdoor classroom, Anne identified a Witch Hazel, which blooms in the fall and has tiny buds and flowers still visible. She pointed out that the Magnolia has fuzzy flower buds and smooth leaf buds.
Back in the classroom, we had lots of questions for Anne. Louise asked “How do the trees grow?” Anne explained that the roots carry water and minerals up from the ground, through the branches to the leaves, which are a kind of “food factory” that takes in carbon dioxide and sunlight and converts them into energy to feed the tree. Elle asked, “Why do the leaves change color?” Anne explained that when cold weather comes, of if there is a drought, the trees protect themselves and conserve energy by shutting down the food factory; it closes of the supply and the leaves fall off. She also explained that sap helps the trees carry water and minerals from the ground to the branches and leaves.
Thanks to Anne for sharing her knowledge and love of trees, to Lindsey for making the visit possible, and to Gigi for spending time with us.
Charlie: I’m so lucky! I have so many messages!
This week we talked about many different ways you can show people you love and care about them. Sometimes it can be with candy or a card, but it can also be spending time with someone, sharing a story, or being kind. Our books this weeks are focused on friendship, kindness and love. “Be Kind” by Pat Zietlow Miller and “Zen Shorts” by Jon J much were the favorites of today. “Be Kind” illustrates the way kindness can have a ripple effect and even a small gesture can have a huge impact. “Zen Shorts” led to a lengthy conversation, the children were most interested in a story about being kind, even if someone is not being kind to you. Maybe someone doesn't know how to be kind and need someone to show them how.
The children loved sharing their valentines with each other this morning and a whole new wave of excitement came when they found valentines in their mailboxes from their KW friends. Friends continued to make valentines for each other, teachers and friends in other classes.
Slowing Down and Looking Up:
Asking children to stop playing so they can lay down and look at something is not an easy sell. We asked the children to look at the trees and share what they notice. Slowly at first, and then all at once, the children began calling out: branches, cherry things, lines and questions. Some children thought it would be boring, and we let them be bored, but when they heard the excitement they wanted to be a part of it. Sometimes, creativity or curiosity hits after you settle into being bored. We would like to incorporate more of this laying around into our days because it helps us slow down, notice and appreciate what is around us and who we are with.
Elle: I notice on one side there are less branches and theres more on the other branch. I notice some trees here have a lot of branches cut off cause they might fall down on somebody.
Margaret: I notice there are leaves on the trunk. Maybe when the wind blew it away (onto the truck).
Jossie: Why is the Willow weeping?
Austin found a pen and began tracing the paths of the branches. Elle, Grace and Jessica found twigs and decided to trace branches too. Austin noticed a long branch that crosses the whole playground and almost touches Hugh's house.
There has been so much interest recently in the buds on the trees, we decided to offer children an opportunity first to closely observe a variety of buds from nearby trees, then to imagine and depict what is inside of each. Children were asked to notice, describe, and draw one bud. Then we paused to share ideas about what might be inside the buds. Next children were given a sheet of transparency paper to layer over the initial drawing; on this sheet they were invited to draw or paint what they thought was inside.
Kian first said, “I think there’s a seed in there. But later after carefully drawing his bud, he decided it had butterflies inside; he painted them in white and gold, explaining “There are butterflies going all over the place.”
Charlie paid careful attention to the shape of the bud as well as the color, selecting gray and gold to sketch the fuzzy exterior. He decided that inside of his bud there was cocoa. He drew it carefully with a brown paint marker, explaining that the cocoa "tastes like marshmallows."
Sally said, “I think butterflies are gonna hatch out.” Then she whispered, “I don’t wanna wake it up.” She then thought a bit and said, “Or a golden shell can be in there. Or a silver shell.”
Jossie shared, “I think there’s a flower.” Then she asked Lisa, “Remember when we saw the flower?” She was recalling a day in December that we peeled open buds we had found in the outdoor classroom. She also noticed that Lou Lou's bud was different, saying "This one has a flower, but that one is from a different tree." Lou Lou speculated, “Maybe there’s a mushroom in it.” Then she and Jossie discussed which mushrooms were okay to eat and which were poison mushrooms.
Leigh thought that there may be wood inside her bud, and she carefully studied and reproduced the shape and color of the bud on its stem.
Margaret carefully drew a bud with a scalloped flower-like pattern around the base. Inside was a "calapoole." What is a calapoole? Margaret explains, “It means that you feel like there’s something growing inside. There’s a plant growing inside."
Grace spent a very long time noticing her buds--their shape, color, and texture--before drawing them. As she drew them, she checked frequently to make sure that she was capturing the shapes. After she began coloring in the fuzzy texture, she noticed lines and added them in green and orange. When she was satisfied with her rendering of the outside, she began to speculate about what was inside, saying she thought it was "one tiny seed." Adding her second layer, she began with one seed, then carefully added a few more. As grace became more familiar and involved with her subject, it was easy to see the relationship develop between them. We're excited to explore more tree buds and the mysteries they contain.
We have also been studying our tree branches and on monday a small group worked with Jen and Rachael observing a branch with buds and then illustrating it. The children noticed some branches are big while others are little. Grace said “The branches are a little wobbly”, noticing they aren’t straight lines at all. Jossie noticed the shapes the branches make when they come together. Children drew what they saw but also tried to imagine things they couldn’t see, like what does the inside of a bud look like?
Today we revisited the branch and Leigh began tracing a small branch on her page. As she tested drawing materials to figure out which would work best for her drawing, she began exploring the different materials and noticing their unique properties. The pencil is lighter than the charcoal and a little more shiny. The markers were the blackest but the charcoal can smudge and smear. Margaret watched Leigh and decided to join. Leigh discovered how to draw with the side of the chalk pastel and showed Margaret her new technique. Both girls agreed to cover the whole paper in black. Jossie and Elle joined and decided to cover their whole paper in black charcoal too.
Leigh and Margaret bring their face close to their drawings to make it "super scary". Then Leigh shared a story about a time she got scared in the night. The children's exploration of materials led to the sharing of ideas and emotions. After the children created their black pages, they agreed it looking at it closer made it scary and began sharing memories of times they were scared.
"If you go like this, super scary!"
Jossie’s grandparents also explained that someone has to come each year to trim the tree and care for its canopy. Molly asked how old the tree is. They explained that the tree is more than 100 years old, and that there are a lot of old and cherished trees in Greenwich, though many of them had not survived hurricane Sandy. Jossie’s grandmother explained that trees like theirs aren’t as likely to fall in a storm because the wind goes through the branches. Pine trees, on the other hand, don’t lose their needles, so they catch the wind and get blown over. Pine trees also have shallower roots; this makes them more likely to fall in a storm. What a wonderful experience—to share our work with Jossie’s family, and to learn a few things we didn’t know about trees. We are so grateful and we hope Magsie and Big D visit again soon!
by Lisa & Rachael
Pieces of Tucker Room experiences.