Week Six: A Tree of My Very Own

Hello Green Hour visitors! Hard to believe another school year is upon us. Kids are now spending their days with a bit more structure–with homework, sports, engagements and hours within classrooms. This often leads to days with little downtime. But everyone needs downtime; a quiet place where we can become lost in thought, without interruption–even kids. Especially kids. It’s healthy to provide your child with her own space and time to simply think (about whatever), reflect, wonder, imagine and “just be.”

I have just the activity to provide your child, regardless of age, with a relaxed sense of wonder–and of course it’s in nature!

Take your child outside and quietly explore a tree near your home. Trees are amazing plants that our planet and people rely on in many ways. Trees are also relied on by LOTS of wildlife, from tiny insects to scampering mammals (think squirrels!)

Perhaps you may designate your tree as a “thinking place” or a “quiet place.” Invite your child to chill at the tree’s base. Place a blanket or towel down for comfort, and maybe even grab a book or two. The idea is to have quiet time with your tree.

Explore your tree. There are many ways to do this!

  • Count and track the number of species you see living on and around your tree. Start at the tree’s roots and work your way up its trunk, observing very closely in the bark, branches and leaves.
  • Sit below your tree and just listen to it. How many sounds can you hear? Do boughs squeak? Do leaves rustle? Are birds present?
  • Photograph or sketch your tree through the seasons. Hang your prints in a photo essay that shows the passing of time.
  • Lay beneath your tree. Note the silhouettes of leaf and sky.
  • Imagine your tree through history. How old might it be? Did other children play around it in past generations?
  • Encourage your child’s imagination to drift, as she enjoys her quiet time with a tree of her very own.

Check out all of Jennifer Ward’s outdoor activity ideas:

Happy trails out in nature!

Jennifer Ward is the author of I Love Dirt! and numerous children’s books, all of which present nature to kids. She lives in Illinois. Learn more about her at www.jenniferwardbooks.com.

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Published: August 28, 2009