Earth Day is this Friday, and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate it than to do a Story Time on Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. We are huge Silverstein fans in this house. His poetry is one of the myriad ways I introduced the Littles to verse. This particular book… It is the consummate environmental children’s book. It is so lovely, the idea that a tree could love a boy so much she would give him everything. When you think of all the things trees do for us–provide us with warmth, with our very homes, give us shade and fruit, even supply the very paper you might print my freebies out on–when you consider all that, you have to also remember that there isn’t an unlimited supply of trees on the planet and we should do our level best to replace what we use.
Why? Well, I believe Silverstein would tell you trees have feelings, too. And I would have to agree.
The Giving Tree
The Giving Tree was published almost 10 years before even I was born, which makes it Old. It also makes it one of the books I grew up reading that continues to be relevant and beautiful for my Littles and your littles. Its message may even have more meaning today than when it was first published. Books like that are few and far between. So, yeah, Silverstein rocks. Let’s do some awesome activities to make the lessons even more fun and meaningful.
This book, which happens chronologically throughout the boys’ life, provides a good chance to do some story sequencing. So I made up a free download just for you and your littles to get some practice in.
You can also have your little think about why the tree loves the boy so much. A short essay explaining what makes the tree so generous is good writing practice. You might even have your little tell the story from the boy’s point of view. In the book, the boy comes across as a little selfish. The tree is giving him everything she has, and he keeps coming back. But he comes back because he loves and trusts the tree. Maybe have your little think about that and tell the story to make the relationship seem more reciprocal.
Because it’s Earth Day this week, and we’re reminded of what we owe our planet, this would be a good time to include my unit study on Deforestation.
This is also a good time to study the life cycle of a tree. Here’s a free download that will help your little understand what a seed goes through to become a big, beautiful, fruit-bearing apple tree.
Tissue Paper Apple Tree
We love this simple craft and tend to make something similar for nearly every season.
What you need:
- 1 sheet brown construction paper
- 1 sheet green construction paper
- 1 sheet each red and green tissue paper (we considered using 2 shades of green but changed our minds)
What you do:
- Draw a tree trunk on the brown paper. You don’t need a template for this; your trunk can be as simple or as fancy as you want it. On the green paper, draw a cloud-shaped treetop.
- Cut out your trunk and treetop. Glue the treetop to the top of the trunk.
- Cut your green tissue paper into small squares.
- Crumble or twist up each square, then add a drop of glue to the bottom.
- Stick the crumbled tissue paper on the treetop. Continue until the entire top is covered.
- Now cut your red tissue paper into small squares.
- Using the same technique as before, glue ‘apples’ into your tree.
Cheap, easy peasy, and loads of fun for littles.
Almost Homemade Apple Turnovers
These are great treats for breakfast or snacks. We like to take them camping with us because they can be prepared ahead of time and eaten on a boat, a hike, anywhere.
What you need:
- 17-1/4 oz package frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 21 ounce can apple pie filling
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 Tbsp water
What you do:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Separate puff pastry sheets
- Cut each into 4 squares
- Divide pie filling equally among squares
- Fold pastry in half over filling, forming triangle shape
- Press edges with a fork
- Bake on a cookie sheet for 15-18 minutes until puffed and golden
- While pastries are cooling, blend powdered sugar and water together
- Spoon icing into a sandwich bag.
- Cut corner from the bag and use like a decorating bag to drizzle icing over each pastry
Can you say amazing? What’s really cool is you can use any ol’ pie filling you want, making turnovers in everybody’s favorite flavor. Yeah yeah. You can’t beat that. Plus, it’s pretty cheap to make.
The Giving Tree is sure to give your littles enough of its magic for them to truly appreciate Earth Day. But if you really want to celebrate, get outside and plant a tree. Nothing says “I love you back” better.
Looking for more fun ideas? Check out: