Today at morning meeting, we looked at photos form our trip yesterday and revisited the experience. We talked about the construction project to help make sure the trees don't get too much water, and about the big old tree that fell down and broke because the ground got too muddy and the roots couldn't hold on. We also recalled the pecan tree that had to be moved because it was planted close to the house and it almost broke the house, and how it got sick after it was moved because the owners had to cut the biggest root off the tree. Will speculated, "I was as big as my body." Will really liked the huge tulip popular, which had spread its huge branches way out--instead of vertically--to take advantage of the open spaced light in the clearing where it was planted. Will told hmos classmates, "I knew I loved it because it was going the other way. It looks like the way that wants the sunshine all by itself." That tree was also Sam's favorite, and he demonstrated to the class the length and twists of its gnarly branches. We were excited to recall how the staff at Tudor Place showed us how to tell a tree's age and the weather based on its rings.
After we sang to Sally, we set out on our field trip. The first thing we saw at Tudor Place was not a tree, but a humongous hole. Laura, the education coordinator (who was spectacular), explained many of the trees roots have been rotting from all of the rain. So they have two rain barrels, each the size of a school bus, they were putting inside of the giant hole to help catch the water and help with erosion.
The first tree we saw was the millennium tree, an enormous tulip poplar, over 200 years old. Normally, it grows in a forest and needs to go straight up to find the sunshine, but this tree grew in a field so it stretched its branches out wide. So wide that some of the branches reach the ground and were in danger of breaking under their own weight. The children had noticed the stumps and Jack asked "Why is that tree glued to that one?". Laura explained they placed stumps under the heavy branches to give them some support so the limb doesn't snap off. Even very big and very strong trees need a little help sometimes.
Next we went to see the fallen oak tree. The ground was so wet and muddy from all of the rain this summer that the roots couldn’t hold on. The tree fell over and they had to chop it up but are using as much of the wood as they can, because it is special wood from a very special tree. We practiced saying dendrochronology and got to help count the tree rings to figure out how old the tree was.
And at last, Frankentree. The children immediately made the connection to Frankenstein, which sparked conversations about monsters and ghosts. The catalpa tree was minding its own business when a princess tree seeded inside of it and cracked it open. Both trees continue to grow and blossom, but it is difficult to tell which branches belong to which tree.
We spent some time painting trees, and the favorite subject seemed to be the Franken tree. Then we had a picnic snack followed by chasing Gary around in the grass and trying to take advantage of every moment of our dreamy morning with the our amazing trees and amazing friends.
On the walk back we found a wood chipper that seemed to have devoured a witch hazel shrub. The children wanted to bring branches back to school, maybe because the blossoms smell so delightful. Leigh said, "It smells like candy!".
Thank you everyone for your company and help making today breezy and perfect.
Elle: I see that’s spiky. I remember in Mexico the cactus did not reach to the sky. The cactus was prickly but I didn’t touch it. That time I was having breakfast.
Jack: I remember this did not have coconuts. I see some blue. This tree was not touching the sky. There’s also some ocean. Dark blue. There’s also some black.
Lisa: What else do you notice?
Elle: I notice that it looks tall, but it was only a little bit tall.
Sally wanted to review her home research as well, so she brought in her photo of a Christmas tree and we compared it to the size and shape of Elle’s cactus.
Jack: It’s tall like a so so so long rectangle.
Elle: Or like a long oval.
Lisa: What else do you notice?
Elle: I notice that it’s an oval but it has spikes. It’s like a spiked oval.
Jack: I notice that this bump kinda looks like a coconut. This bump looks like a half coconut.
Lisa: What do you notice when you look again?
Elle: It’s spiky, but it’s furry like a furry oval with spikes all over it cause it sticks to the ground.
Lisa: Look again. I notice that ever time you look, you notice new things. What do you notice now?
Jack: It looks like teeth.
Elle: I notice that right here theres bigger spikes. And I notice that there’s some spikes here and not any up here.
Lisa: Jack you mentioned teeth. What kind of teeth?
Jack: Monster teeth.
Lisa: What else do you notice?
Jack: This is like a tiny neck. Super thin. This is like a snake face.
Elle: I notice that a cactus is light green but it has little spikes in the middle and big spikes here and no spikes here.
Elle: I notice there’s a tiny little flower. It was bigger in Mexico.
Lisa: Jack did you get to touch this tree when you were in Anguilla?
Jack: I think it felt bumpy.
Elle: I didn’t get to touch the cactus because it was spiky.
Lisa: What do you think it would feel like if you could touch the part between the spikes?
Elle: It would feel soft and squishy.
Jack: This would be hard (mimes trying to squeeze the bark, but not being able to).
Elle: Actually, here at the top it’s hard and right down here it’s squishy.
Lisa: Jack, how would you describe this part?
Jack: It’s like a pointy green coconut.
Lisa: Let’s each notice something about the other’s photo.
Elle: I notice right here (on Jack’s palm tree) there’s little tiny dots.
Jack: Oh yeah, I saw those!
Elle: I think there’s honey in there.
Jack: There’s no honey inside this tree.
Elle: This looks like it might be sand.
Jack: There’s no sand on this tree. Only on the bottom of it.
Elle: This looks like it might be sky.
Jack: You’re right. That’s the sky.
Elle: I see these little lines here. I think they’re spiky like cactus.
Jack: I think they’re not spiky.
Soon after, we decided it was time for snack. We went back to the classroom, happy to have spent some time revisiting happy memories and making new discoveries.
When our first tree expert came, she told us the ivy growing on our huge tree was hurting it. Today we set out on a mission to save the tree. A small group when to the back alley to get to the base of the tree and the base of the ivy. We learned we could not save the tree…in just one day. There is a TON of ivy. But the children were dedicated and excited to snip the ivy roots and we will return. Sally, lover of all living things, said “The poor ivy!” We are killing one thing to save another. Is there a way to care for both?
Meanwhile, on the other side of the fence, a group of friends examine the ivy and gave the tree a different kind of love.
Later in the morning, our second tree expert Pat came to visit the Rainey Room. She asked what we had learned so far, so we started by showing her what we’ve been working on and thinking about. Several children shared their drawings and paintings of tree buds and what they think is inside. We then discussed all of the things that trees give us, including fruit and nuts. Pat also brought along some walnuts and pecans for us to sample.
Lou Lou: Some trees give us syrup.
Will: They also give us apples.
Jack: They give us air.
Kian: And coconuts.
Jack: They also make orange juice.
When Pat pointed to the wooden chair sitting next to her, and said that trees give us furniture, some friends agreed and others didn’t see the connection. Maybe this can be something we investigate in the future?
We went on to talk about different animals who depend on trees in one way or another—for both habitat and food source. Lou Lou observed that birds eat the berries from trees. Jossie noted that beavers needed trees to build their houses and Elle added they also eat the trees. Kian said he knew gorillas needed trees, but wasn’t sure why. Maybe another topic for future research?
We had lots of questions for Pat. Lou Lou asked why the ivy climbs up the tree. Pat explained that it is trying to grow up to the light. Also, as the ivy climbs higher, it changes gender and as it does so the shape of the leaves change. It also makes berries when it’s up higher. She explained that ivy doesn’t hurt the trunk of the tree as it’s growing, but when it gets high enough to cover the branches it can block the leaves from getting sunlight. Another way ivy hurts trees is that when a tree’s branches are covered in ivy it picks up more wind and is more susceptible to storms.
Kian asked how a storm can blow down only one tree? Pat said it’s complicated, but often a tree is sick and you can’t tell from the outside, so the tree is weaker than others around it and is more easily blown over.
Elle asked why ivy climbs one tree and not others? Pat said it was just luck.
Jack asked how tree buds open. Pat explained that when the tree feels warm weather, it pushes water up through the limbs to the buds, and the water pushes them open.
Will asked if coconut trees have buds. Pat explained that a coconut is just a big seed. Elle had asked a question in advance about why some bananas are green and some are yellow. Pat explained that they are in different stages of maturity or ripening.
Lou Lou asked last week why rose trees fall down when it’s windy. Pat explained that sometimes roses don’t have strong roots, or the roots have rotted, so they get knocked down by the wind.
In response to Austin’s question last week about whether cutting limbs off the tree hurts the tree, Pat told us a lot of amazing things about trees and other plants. Scientists studying trees have found that a tree in the forest that is attacked by an insect, for example, can send a message to other tress letting them know to protect themselves. Also, there is research showing that plants in general respond differently—either through a positive or negative vibration—to different people based on how the people have treated them. So they respond with different wavelength to someone who waters and cares for them, versus someone who has cut off their branches. She said that scientists had also seen trees respond to music through vibrations, and described a project in France in which scientists connected trees to synthesizers and recorded music trees made in response to music played to them. And the trees even taught each other to make music! So, trees do feel something when we cut them, but sometimes it's necessary to help the tree and they understand when people have to trim them to keep them healthy. Trees do heal and usually they are fine.
After Pat’s visit, we all drew pictures of the stories ands ideas we found most interesting. Jack drew a bud being pushed open by water. Kian drew a forest of trees in which one tree with leaves on his head and body was getting pushed by wind and lightning. It was a fantastic visit with so many questions and new ideas to explore! Many thanks to Brittney for introducing us to Pat!
Today was all about the birthdays! We celebrated Louise's half birthday with her mom and dad and got to listen to a very excited Star Wars story. The birthday committee honored Louise with her wishing rock and we came together for a special birthday picnic with homemade brownies! Thank you for sharing your half birthday with the Rainey Room, we whole love you!
Wishes for Louise:
Margaret: I wish for Louise to have a balloon.
Grace: I wish for her to have a rainbow balloon for her birthday party!
Sally: I wish she gets a unicorn with a rainbow tail and hair and a magical horn that jumps with beautiful rainbow wings.
Some friends also got together to help decorate the Tucker room for our celebration of St John's 22nd birthday! Friends made signs, decorated with balloons and used some of our left over Mardi Gras beads to beautify the space. All of a sudden the children are writing up a storm so the signs were definitely a highlight. The Brown room baked a cake so if your children have an extra spring in their step this afternoon, its because they ate brownies and cake all day.
As the conversation continued, Austin also shared that while in North Carolina he had seen a place where lots of trees had been blown down in a hurricane. Jack shared that he had noticed on the drive to school a tree in the shape of the letter "Y." It inspired us all to do more noticing throughout the day.
Later at second meeting, we talked about questions we’d like to ask out tree expert when she comes to visit next Tuesday:
Jossie: I want to know why one tree got blown down in the wind and not the others?
Elle: Why do banana trees make another tree? And why do banana trees always make separate bananas? Why are some green and some are yellow bananas?
Lou Lou: Why does the rose tree fall down when it’s super duper windy?
Austin: When the trees fall and you cut limb off, it doesn’t even hurt the tree. They don’t even feel it. When the tree is alive, does it hurt? Why does the tree keep growing?
So many insightful questions and keen observations. Our next expert visit is going to be very exciting!
I did not expect the return from India to be easy, but the children have let me relive the experience with countless questions and wonderings; easing me back into an everyday life bursting with love and hugs. It is so special to share my adventure and treasures with them.
At morning meeting we shared Rudraksha beads from India. The beads are actually bright blue seeds from the Rudraksha tree. After they dry, they darken and shrivel up and Hindu’s often use them for prayer beads or jewelry. The children made observations about the beads noticing their bumpy, prickly texture and the way the feel when you move them in your hands.
Yesterday Austin asked if we could use our Mardi Gras beads to make impressions in clay so we set out beads from India and Mardi Gras. Initially, the children explored making pressing and rolling the beads on slabs of clay but quickly began to form structures and create narratives with boats racing away from sharks, using the beads to create patterns and textures.
After meeting, lots of friends talked with Rachael about her trip to India and checked out her photos and all the beautiful things she brought back for the classroom. The conversation turned to Mardi Gras--which Rachael knows well, having moved here last year from New Orleans. The children were curious about Mardi Gras traditions so we found videos of parades and listened to first line band music.
Meanwhile in the Tucker Room with Jessica, a group of children had devised a plan to individually package a string of Mardi Gras beads for each of the Tucker Room children and teachers, and they worked very hard to write each of their names on a sealed envelope. Later in the morning we enjoyed a delicious snack of king cake and Kian got the baby! Next one's on you, Kian! Thanks to Charlie's family for sharing their family tradition (which has now become a school tradition), and for inspiring us to share the love.
by Lisa & Rachael
Pieces of Tucker Room experiences.