We have a huge tree outside and several more trees of different sizes. Young children love to look at the huge tree and feel it. Why not use the tree for observation and learning? This observation activity lasts for as long as wanted.
First, pick a tree to observe and notice what color is the bark. “Bark” is a new vocabulary word for some preschoolers. Does the tree have leaves today? What color are they? Are any leaves on the ground or just on the tree branches. How do you know? “Branches” is a new vocabulary word also.
Someone has the idea to take a picture of the tree. I can put that picture on the laptop so the children can see it or print it off to hang in our room.
Another day, observing a tree involves putting paper on the trunk and using a crayon making a “rub” art of the bark on the tree. Now the art can be displayed in the room or hung on the fence.
During outdoor play, individual children will notice something about the tree and come to me with a comment or we’ll both go look at the tree together. Sometimes several children will join in. It could be a small insect or just the way the bark is shaped.
Still, another day, a few small twigs from a branch has fallen on the ground after a wind storm. We gather the twigs touching them and noticing how they feel. For this tree, they are smoother than the bark on the trunk. We measure them. Which one is big, which one is small. We put them in order from smallest to biggest. We vote on them to see which one we like the best.
On our last day of formally observing the tree, the children bring paper outside to draw a leaf or any part of the tree.
The preschool children have developed a better understanding of trees and especially a tree they see everyday. They also developed their observation skills, found other plants and insects, fine motor skills, language through conversation about the tree, vocabulary, compared and sorted, and did a community vote.
Do you have a tree in your playground or neighborhood to observe?