Arbor Day and Tree Activities

Friday, April 28, is National Arbor Day in the US. It’s a perfect time to read A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry, and spend some time studying trees!

A Tree is Nice is a lovely book that won the Caldecott Medal in 1957, with illustrations alternate between color and black-and-white. The text describes the many ways that trees are a part of our lives. It even ends with planting a tree, which would be perfect if you plan to plant a tree with your class or at home!

You can easily use this book as a way to explore nature and scientific concepts of plant life, conservation and environmentalism.

Best Ages: pre-k – 2nd grade

For Parents:

  • Take a walk with your child. Make observations about the trees that are becoming more green and full in the spring season. Collect leaves from the ground.
  • At home, place a blank white paper over the leaves you collected on your walk and gently rub a crayon over the paper. You will create a raised image of the leaf. Talk about the difference in the shapes of the leaves and display your final artwork!

For Teachers:

  • Teach your students the parts of a tree. Use a free handout like this one if desired.
  • Explain the differences between coniferous and deciduous trees with this free slide show from Teachers Pay Teachers.
  • Discuss how trees are used to make products that we use. Here is a wonderful, free lesson plan from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

Snow, Snow, Snow!

As I type that title, in my mind I hear the song “Snow” from Berlin Irving’s movie White Christmas (1954). So wonderful!

Like many other midwest natives, I admit that I love snow when it comes but am ready for it to magically melt away after the new year. 😉 But for now, winter is just beginning, which means I am ready to welcome the snow with sparkly-eyed delight! Thus far we’ve had some flurries but nothing that has stuck. Still, with our Christmas decorations up and the tree lights glowing, I pulled out an old favorite to read aloud as a family: White Snow, Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt.

This is a classic children’s book for winter and boasts the Caldecott Medal for its nostalgic illustrations. I like the book because it focuses on 3 characters from a town as they prepare for a big winter snow to come. There are is also ample opportunity for using this with older students for language arts mini-lessons on descriptive language and personification.

Whether you have snow or not where you live, I’m sure you and your children/students will like this book!

Best Ages: kindergarten and up

For Parents:

  • Do you like the snow? If it snows where you live, talk to your child about what you do to prepare for big snow storms and winter weather.
  • Cut out paper snowflakes from construction paper or coffee filters. (Remind your child to fold in quarters and only cut along the lines.) Tape them to the inside of windows in your house and listen to the song “Snow” from White Christmas.

For Teachers:

  • Show your class the clip of the song “Snow” from White Christmas. If appropriate for your region, ask students what they enjoy doing in the snow. Or ask what they would like to do if it snowed where you live. Make a list on the whiteboard.
  • After reading aloud the book, choose a winter art project for your students to complete. (This is a link to one of my favorite websites, created by an elementary art teacher.)
  • For older grade levels, choose several lines from the book that demonstrate personification and descriptive language. Have students work in pairs to identify which ones are examples of each. Review as a class.