This autumn has been gorgeous.  The trees are brilliant in a variety of colors.  They make me look up.  They make me stop to really look.

Summer was dry, so it is surprising that our autumn is especially colorful.  I like to think that Mother Nature is giving us an art show during this pandemic year, to remind us that nature and trees are a beautiful thing, and to tell us to look.

Back to trees.

Trees represent the circle of life in ways that we can understand- children, too.  They are the visual to life and death, growing, survival, thriving, and new birth.  Trees are a home for animals.  They are a playground and shelter for everyone.  The list is a long one.  When I use the word ‘grounded’, trees are the benchmark.

Many children’s books have been written about trees.  One book that I read aloud every year is The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree by Gail Gibbons.

After showing children the front cover, I start the book with the back cover:

I take a minute to let the four pictures sink in.  Then I ask questions. Did you know half of the pleasure – and learning – that happens when reading a book to children, is asking questions?

What do you see?
What makes the 
pictures different?
There’s a name for what they’re called.  Do you know what it is?

And so it goes.  We spend a long time on the four seasons, the order they happen, and how the tree is different in each one.  It sets the stage for the story of the tree over each season. Each season has many pages as to what the tree does.  Here are the lead-in pages for each season:





I read this book to children at the start of each season, and we take a “tree walk” to see what we can see.  This year’s tree walk was spectacular in beauty.  Of course there are many other wonderful books about trees that I read to children.  This coming week I will be reading Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall, and The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton.  Last week we read Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson, and Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson.

Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.
Albert Einstein


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
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65 Responses to Trees

  1. Ritu says:

    So much we can learn from Trees, Jennie, and I have to admit, autumnal trees are my favourite, just before they lose their beautiful leaves ❤

  2. Opher says:

    Those photos are amazing – as are the books! Superb Jennie.

  3. beetleypete says:

    Your autumn trees are lovely indeed, Jennie. And the book is a great way to teach the young ones how to appreciate and love trees.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  4. Dan Antion says:

    I’m enjoying just the thought of you, surrounded by attentive children, reading those wonderful books. You’re the best, Jennie.

  5. The changing seasons must be quite a wonder to young children. You must have a biology lesson on why leaves change color in the fall? (I remember that being a big question for me.)

  6. quiall says:

    Those shots of the trees are great, especially the ones with the different perspective. I think children give us that: a different perspective. We should listen.

  7. Trees are amazing and good teachers, and listeners too. Your orange leaf trees are spectacular!

  8. the colors this year have been so vibrant and I feel like it is lasting longer than normal. But, is it? Or is it that this year we were forced to slow down and provided the opportunity to reflect and realize the beauty that has always been there?

    Oh and I love Gail Gibbons books as a jumping off point for science learning for children

    • Jennie says:

      Yes, they have been! You make a good point- are we slowing down to really see, and therefore noticing the vibrant colors? I really love Gail Gibbons, too. Her book on cowboys, and on knights, are among my favorites. Thank you, Lori.

  9. “They make me look up”
    Different perspectives are sooooooo refreshing.
    As always, a delight to read, teacher.

  10. Superb and beautiful trees, Jennie. Trees and nature are always good teachers and children love them.

  11. A world without trees would be so bland. Not only the oxygen and carbon dioxide filtering they do, but the cover they provide for animals, makes them so important to us all. Not to mention how beautiful they are.

  12. Don Ostertag says:

    What a great lesson for those little ones!

  13. One thing I miss since moving to AL is the fall foliage. Have you read Mr. Tamerin’s Trees, by Kathryn F. Ernst? It’s one of my favorites on what trees give to us, and it’s quite funny.

  14. Another one of my favorite read-alouds and a perfect segway into the ending of one/beginning of another season… Your photos are glorious, Jennie! The foliage here after an extremely dry summer was surprisingly glorious too. Blessed by the wonder of it all! 🍂 xo

    • Jennie says:

      I’m so glad this was a favorite read-aloud, Bette. Gail Gibbons does a remarkable job. I have taken so many photos this year because the foliage has been glorious. We are blessed by the wonder of it all. 🍁

  15. Adding A Walk Along the Beach to my wish list!

  16. petespringerauthor says:

    Have you had the pleasure of seeing some of our incredible redwood trees, Jennie? I try not to take their beauty for granted. I am reminded of their grandness whenever we have visitors, as many have never seen trees that tall before.

    • Jennie says:

      I have not, and I would dearly love to see them. I show pictures to the children because they love the song, “This Land is Your Land”, and the redwood forests are part of the song. There are many terrific pictures in the book, which is a great lead-in to real photos.

      I can only imagine their grandness! Our first trip to Oregon and seeing the Cascade Mountains was as close as I have ever come to such grandness.

  17. Norah says:

    Your trees in their autumn colours are stunning, Jennie. We don’t experience seasons here the way you do. Books like those you mention are important to our understanding of how the seasons change in other places.

  18. Beautiful colours, Jennie. I read a book once that said a colourful autumn with a lot of nuts and berries means a hard winter ahead.

  19. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is another wonderful post from that best of teachers, Jennie!

  20. Léa says:

    While there are leaves changing colors and falling off some of our trees, I find the largest spectacle in the vineyards. They have given us the fruits of their labor and now bid us adieu with a bonne au revoir!

  21. I love trees. I cannot bear the thought of so many being cut down at Christmas time.

  22. I remember those Leaf Projects in elementary school…. I think if I knew what to do with them I might still be picking them up off the ground!

  23. willedare says:

    Yay for trees — and for you sharing your love and respect for trees with your students. Lovely!!!

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