The 20 preK students at our Ontario Road site just finished up 10 weeks of studying trees.
To begin, the children observed the parts of trees—roots, trunk, branches, leaves, and fruit—and learned the purpose of each part. They planted seeds and guessed if they would grow better in the sun or out of the sun. This experiment helped them realize that trees start as seeds and need sun and water to grow.
The students also learned about the variety of resources trees provide—fruit like apples, oranges, and bananas; wood that can be used for items like furniture and instruments; and more. Students explored some of these resources by making homemade paper, baking apple pies, and doing other hands-on activities.
In addition, children learned how to care for trees and about tree “doctors” called arborists. The classes even took a field trip to the National Arboretum to explore trees and plants there.
“We began studying trees in the fall because it’s such a beautiful time to observe how trees change,” said Emily Gordon, a preK instructor. “We like to connect our studies to the students’ lives. We talked about trees they see out of their apartment windows, trees they see on the way to school, trees they see in our school neighborhood, etc.”
Studying one topic for an extended period of time allows children to dig deep into the topic rather than just touch the surface of many topics. Throughout the study, teachers reviewed what students were taught in previous weeks to reinforce their learning.
At the end of the 10 weeks, parents were invited into the classroom for a celebration. Students happily shared what they had learned and created, and everyone enjoyed a delicious fruit salad made from the students’ favorite fruits—that grew on trees, of course!