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My Friend, the Tree

Age: 0 to 8+ Time: Under 1 hour
Materials: trees, time together
Skills: Curiosity, Gross Motor, Sensory, Empathy

Featured in our #OutdoorsAll4 challenge, ‘My Friend the Tree’ offers kids and families the opportunity to grow their awareness of and connection to, the trees that they see every day.

The Guide

If time permits, read about why trees are our greatest teachers in this blog post. It will help to ground you in the activity and give you some really interesting ideas and facts to talk about with your kids.

  1. Step outside and as you walk, hike or even just move from building to car to building, notice and remark on the trees. Talk about their size, color, movement—anything you notice about them.
  2. Pick a special tree and get to know your tree using multiple senses. (Get up close and feel the bark against your face or hands, listen to the leaves rustle or what it sounds like when a stick rubs against it, sniff the tree.)
  3. Now that you’ve spent some time observing your tree with all of your senses, focus on your connection to the tree. There are many ways to do this, but a great route to take for kids is to name their tree. Slow down and wonder with kids about what they think the tree’s name is. What are the qualities the tree has that most stand out to kids, and can those maybe inspire a name?
  4. If there's a limb low and strong enough to start, climb!
  5. Other fun things to do with your tree:
    1. Measure your tree using a rope or your arms or a tape measure.
    2. Use mud or nature treasures to make a face on your tree or decorate it.
    3. Sing songs and tell jokes to your tree.
  6. Visit the tree over time and through different seasons to see what stays the same and what changes--both physically with the tree, as well as with your relationship to the tree.
  7. Do some research: Get to know the scientific name for the tree and learn something special about it. Download a free app like LeafSnap or Virginia Tech Tree ID to help you easily identify trees by their leaves, fruits and other features.

Why is this activity great for kids?

Trees offer ways to climb and build motor skills, persistence, and self reliance. They are often a key part of the setting for our greatest feats of imagination. Observing trees with all of our senses naturally develops curiosity and a base in a wide range of STEM concepts. Finally, once they spend real, quality time with trees, they stand the chance to be more grounded and empathetic as people and certainly more prepared to protect both these amazing plants and the planet that supports us all.

Try A Complimentary Tinkergarten Class

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Weekly virtual session with a Tinkergarten Leader with song, movement and the week’s play lesson.
Reinforce the lesson with the three activities in your at-home guide. Keep kids learning all week.
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Weeks full of purposeful outdoor play! Kids track progress and get regular recognition from your Tinkergarten Leader.

DIY Kits

Great deals on DIY kits designed for learning through play. Check out the Circle Time Essentials Kit to make the most of this season!